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The Life Story of 
Sir Charles Tilston Bright 


Knighted September 4th, 1858, for laying the First Atlantic Cable age 26. 

The Life Story 


Sir Charles Tilston Bright 















History, Construction and Working. 



For particulars and Press Opinions, see 
end of this volume. 




TN response to a number of suggestions and in view 
* of the present year being the Fiftieth Anniversary 
of the Atlantic Cable, this abridgement of the original 
biography x has been prepared by the author. 

Whilst the present volume cannot profess to deal in the 
same complete manner with the pioneering of Submarine 
Telegraphy in general, it covers in a compressed form 
the entire scope of its subject as set forth in full on the 

The Appendices to the two previous volumes mainly 
covering Sir Charles Bright's scientific and engineering 
papers, addresses, official reports, and inventions are 
omitted here, with the exception of that dealing with his 
inventions. This also applies in a measure to the contem- 
poraneous doings of others in the same field. Even now, 
however, being to some extent an historical work of refer- 
ence, the author has to plead indulgence for occasional 
repetitions under different chapters and headings. 

1 The Life-Story of the late Sir Charles Tilston Bright, Civil Engi- 
neer, with which is incorporated the Story of the Atlantic Cable and 
the first Telegraph to India and the Colonies. By his brother, 
Edward Brailsford Bright, and his son, Charles Bright, F.R.S.E. 
(London : Archibald Constable & Co., 1898. 3 35. net.) 



It only remains to be said that this biography is based 
on original and official documents, mostly in the author's 
possession. Special care has been bestowed on the Index 
to enable the reader to readily follow the sequence of 
events in regard to the history of telegraphy under the 
various subject headings or the main features of the life 
dealt with. 

December, 1908. 


r I ^HE exploits, inventions, and scientific achievements 
^ are here chronicled of one who, when in his seven- 
teenth year, devised his first invention, since in active use ; 
when a youth of nineteen, carried out important telegraph 
work, including the laying of a complete system of wires, 
under the streets of Manchester in a single night with- 
out incurring any disturbance to the traffic ; when twenty 
became Chief Engineer to the Magnetic Telegraph Com- 
pany, extending its lines throughout the United King- 
dom ; and who, a year later, in establishing telegraphic 
communication between Great Britain and Ireland, was 
to quote the late Lord Kelvin " the first to lay a 
cable in deep water." 

When but twenty years of age the subject of this Memoir 
had patented as many as twenty-four distinct inventions 
which he had been elaborating during the three pre- 
ceding years. This was at precisely the same period of 
life as that at which one of the most prolific inventors, 
Mr. Edison, took out his first patent ; and many of young 
Bright's early inventions are still in use and essential to 
present-day telegraphy. Altogether he brought out no 



less than 119 separate inventions, and a large proportion 
of these proved of general utility. 1 

When twenty-three, Bright became a projector of the 
Atlantic Telegraph, to which, a year later, he was ap- 
pointed Engineer-in-Chief. After a series of almost in- 
surmountable difficulties, he, in 1858 and contrary to 
expert opinion successfully laid the first cable between 
Ireland and America, at the age of twenty-six, 
thereby telegraphically uniting two great continents. It 
had been said by many who had watched his energy 
and talent in early days, that honours were in store for 
him. The prediction was verified. He became the youngest 
knight in that same year, for what was at the time very 
justly described as " the great scientific achievement of 
the century." It may, perhaps, be added that in- those 
days a knighthood signified more than it does now, if only 
because it was an honour comparatively closely confined to 
men who had achieved something for their country 
rather than for services to party politics. 

In his Presidential Address to the Institution of Elec- 
trical Engineers, in 1889, Lord Kelvin (then Sir William 
Thomson) said in regard to the above undertaking : 
' To Sir C. Bright 's vigour, earnestness, and enthusiasm 
was due the successful laying of the cable. We must 

1 Those in constant use to-day comprise : (i) The insulator 
and shackle for aerial telegraphs. (2) The acoustic bell telegraph 
instrument. (3) The means of finding out the position of a fault 
in a submarine cable, or subterranean wires, by an alternative 
circuit of varying resistance coils. (4) The protection of sub- 
marine cable cores with ribands of metal wound spirally and 
overlapping. (5) The cable compound, and method of application. 


always feel deeply indebted to our late colleague as the 
pioneer of that great work, when other engineers would 
not look at it, and thought it absolutely impracticable." l 
Again, when, as President of the same Institution in 
1897, Sir Henry Mance, C.I.E., M.Inst.C.E., delivered his 
address, he expressed himself in these terms with reference 
to the aforesaid topic : " If we, as engineers, desire to do 
honour to any one individual who pre-eminently distin- 
guished himself in the development of oceanic telegraphy, 
we have simply to refer to the list of our Past -Presidents, 
and select the name of Charles Tilston Bright." 

In this connection, Bright 's youthful talent has been 
spoken of as scarcely second to that of William Pitt. 
His mind was essentially an inventive one ; but he was 
equally a man of action. It was, probably, the union of 
these two qualities which enabled him to overcome the 
difficulties encountered in laying the First Atlantic Cable. 

Afterwards carrying out many important submarine cable 
undertakings in the Mediterranean and elsewhere in- 
cluding the first telegraph to India, and between the West 
Indian Islands he also took an active part in politics, 
and was elected a Member of Parliament at the age of 
thirty-three. Whilst in the House of Commons he was 

1 Fortunately we are soon to have a biography worthy of the 
late Lord Kelvin, written by so distinguished an author as Dr. 
Silvanus Thompson, F.R.S. ; and here will be provided a suitable 
record of his lordship's marvellous indeed, unrivalled contribu- 
tion to the theory and practice of submarine telegraphy. As is 
now fairly well recognised, it was Lord Kelvin's mathematical and 
inventive skill in the electrical working of ocean cables which put 
them on a sound commercial footing. 


constantly to the fore in advocating the extension of tele- 
graphic communication with our Colonies and Dependencies, 
besides serving on more than one Committee with similar 
objects in view. 

Bright also acted as expert adviser and consulting 
engineer to a large number of projects for the second and 
third Atlantic Cables and for a variety of subsequent sub- 
marine lines, as well as other engineering enterprises. 

He continued his career of practical work and invention 
in electric lighting as well as telegraphy, until his death 
in 1888. His engineering association with the former was 
never, however, of the same leading character as was the 
case in regard to telegraphy. It was, indeed, quite 
secondary in this country to that of Siemens, Hopkinson, 
Crompton, Ferranti, Kennedy, Swinburne, and Mordey. 

The closing event of his life was that of becoming 
President of the Society of Telegraph Engineers and 
Electricians (now the Institution of Electrical Engineers) 
during the Electric Telegraph Jubilee of 1887. 

Bright was amongst the foremost to take an active in- 
terest in the Volunteer movement, and when set afoot 
became Captain of one of the first corps. 

In his home he was a genial host, who gathered 
many friends around him, and entered keenly into all 

His was in every sense a full life full of endeavour, 
and full of achievement. A man of wide sympathies, he 
was, indeed, capable of throwing himself with enthusiasm 
into everything he took up ; and here, perhaps, lies the 
secret of his usefulness. 


There are not many cases in which so much ground has 
been covered in so short a time and at so early a period 
of life. Indeed, in its leading article on the occasion of 
his death, The Times remarked : " If a man's life may be 
measured by the amount he has accomplished, Sir Charles 
Bright lived long, though dying at the comparatively early 
age of fifty-five. Few men have ever done more useful 
work for his country and for commerce within less than 
forty years." A study of The Dictionary of National 
Biography, Men of the Reign, or Men of the Time, corro- 
borates this view. 

There is probably no branch of engineering which lends 
itself so readily to a full sight of the world as that of 
telegraphy. Thus, the present volume is centred in 
many climes, and partly consists of stirring narratives of 
adventure suggestive of romance rather than the plain 
story of a man of science. It is thought, therefore, that 
these pages will appeal to the general reader only in a 
lesser degree than to the engineer, student, and historian. 
Apart from his profession, indeed in his varied tastes, 
sympathies, and recreations Sir Charles was as much the 
traveller as the scientist ; and even when engaged on most 
trying cable ventures in unhealthy climates he invariably 
kept neatly written records of the day's performance of 
what he had seen and learnt never retiring to bed with- 
out attending to his task. In the chapter dealing with 
the West Indian Cables these diaries have been largely 
drawn from, in order to illustrate the real character of a 
telegraph engineer's life and the vicissitudes encountered 
during a cable expedition under unfavourable conditions. 


Surprise is sometimes expressed that social festivities- 
given and received should form a feature in cable expedi- 
tions. It should, however, be remembered that the nature 
of the work points to the necessity of ensuring friendly 
relations with those to whom the cable has been taken. 

Bright's life was throughout associated with trouble. It 
would, in fact, have been well had he turned to lighter 
occupations in his closing years, when, with failing health, 
he no longer had the constitution for arduous work. 

Essentially a man of action, and obviously endowed with 
great ability, his main characteristics were, in the author's 
opinion, intense energy, patience, fortitude under adverse 
circumstances, determination, perseverance and resource. 
He seemed constantly to be living up to Longfellow's 
Knes : 

Each morning sees some task begun, 

Each evening sees it close ; 
Something attempted, something done, 

Has earned a night's repose. 



II BOYHOOD ........ 4 



Section i. Investigations and Stepping Stones ... 32 

2. Formation of the Company and Construction of 

the Cable . ...... 39 

3. Ships, Stowage, and Departure for Valentia . 53 

4. The "Wire Squadron" at Valentia ... 63 

5. Laying the First Ocean Cable .... 66 

6. Preparations for Another Attempt ... 73 

7. The Trial Trip 88 

8. The Storm 91 

9. The Renewed Effort . . . . .105 

10. Finis coronal opus . . . . . .116 

11. The Celebration . . . . . .140 

12. The Working of the Line . . . .149 

13. The Inquest .162 

14. Other Routes ... ... 167 

15. The 1865 and 1866 Cables . .176 

VII 1860-1863 2 5 

Proposed Permanent Exhibition in Paris Retirement from 
Engineership to the Magnetic Telegraph Company 
Partnership with Mr. Latimer Clark The Formulation of 
Electrical Standards and Units. 





Section i. Retrospect and Preparations . .219 

2. The Design, Construction and Testing of the Per- 

sian Gulf Cable . .225 

3. Laying the Cable . .232 

4. The Land Line Connecting Links . . 256 

5. Retrospection and Reminiscences . .261 


X 1865-1869 . . . . . . .276 

The Inquiry into the Construction of Submarine Telegraphs 
Second and Third Atlantic Cables, 1865-66 Hooper's 
India-rubber Cables Improvement of Communication with 
India and the East Extension to the Far East The Anglo- 
Mediterranean Cable British-Indian Lines British- 
Indian Extension, etc., Lines Marseilles, Algiers and 
Malta Line Falmouth, Gibraltar and Malta Cable Rival 
Schemes The "Eastern" Companies Parliamentary 

XI WEST INDIA CABLES . . . . -505 

Section i. The Florida-Cuba Line 305 

2. Preparations and Manufacture of Island Links . 310 

3. Laying the Cables . . . . . .319 

4. Adventures and Reminiscences . . .361 

5. The Griefs of Grappling . . . . .362 

6. Homeward Bound ...... 367 

XII 1873-1874 ... ... 371 


Section i. Transfer to the State .... 373 

2. Railway and Government Arbitrations . . 376 


The Servian Mines. 







The "Direct United States" Cable Arbitration Other 
Atlantic Cables Duplex Telegraphy The Phonopore. 







Shooting and Fishing Yachting Tours and Picnics Club 




List of Illustrations 

Sir Charles Bright (age 26) Frontispiece 

Monument to Sir John Bright, Bart. . . 2 

Bright's Testing and Fault Localisation System . . 7 

Bright's Insulator ..... I2 

Bright's Shackles ...... I2 

Bright's Telegraph Post .... I2 

Bright's Underground System I ^ 

Bright's Bell Instrument ..... 22 

Bright's Acoustic Telegraph . . . . . .24 

The Anglo-Irish Cable, 1853 . . . . -27 

Laying the First Cable to Ireland, 1853 . . . . 31 

Signatures to Atlantic Cable Agreement .... 40 

Route for Atlantic Cable, with Soundings .... 47 

First Atlantic Cable . . . . . . . .48 

First Atlantic Cable (shore-end type) 49 

Mr. C. T. Bright (age 25) 53 

The Cedars, Harrow Weald 54 

Coiling the Cable Aboard 55 

H.M.S. Agamemnon taking Cable abroad . . . -57 
U.S.N.S. Niagara ........ 59 

Landing the Cable on the Coast of Ireland .... 65 

Picking up Cable 74 

The Self-Releasing Friction Brake 76 

The Principle of the Brake 77 

Bright's Paying-out Gear for the First Atlantic Cable, 1858 79 
H.M.S. Agamemnon, with the Cable, in a Storm . . 98 

H.M.S. Agamemnon completing the First Atlantic Cable . 136 
U.S.N.S. Niagara completing the Cable at the American end 138 
Landing the Irish End of the Cable . . . .141 
Facsimile of one of the first Messages received on the Atlantic 

Cable ..-,... Z 55 

North Atlantic Telegraph Project, 1860 : ....... ... 169 

Second Atlantic Cable .... *79 




Second Atlantic Cable (shore end) 185 

Buoys, Grapnels, Mushrooms and Men . .186 

Great Eastern Completing the Second Atlantic Cable . . 191 

The Cable-covering Apparatus . .216 

Compound Conveyer . . 2r 7 

Map showing Telegraph to India . .222 

Portrait of Sir Charles Bright (age 32) . 224 

The Persian Gulf Cable (main type) . .229 

Cable-laying in the Persian Gulf . . . . .236 

Elphinstone Island" and Telegraph Station .... 245 

Landing the Cable in the Mud at Fao . . . .248 

Telegraphic Communication to the East, 1868 . . .292 

Little Sutton, Chiswick . . . . . . -303 

Sir Charles Bright (age 37). .... . 306 

Route for the West Indian Cables . . . . -307 

Telegraph Ship Dacia off the Silvertown Works . 3 r i 

Bright's Cable Gear aboard T.S. Dacia . . . .312 

The West Indian Cable (deep-sea type) . . . .313 

The West Indian Cable (shore end) . . . . -313 

Grapnel in Operation . . . . . . .317 

Grappling Rope . . . . . . . .317 

H.M.S. Vestal with T.S.S. Dacia and Suffolk off the Cuban 

Coast ......... 320 

Reproduction from Diary . . . . . . -335 

Reproduction from Diary ...... 342-3 

Reproduction from Diary . . . . . . .356 

Fire Alarm Post 389 

Bright's Street Fire Alarm System . . . . .391 

Bright's Automatic Fire Alarm .392 

Bust of Sir Charles Bright ...... 440 

Bright's Double-roofed Shackle ...... 456 

Bright's Curb Transmitting Key 457 

Bright's Lightning Guard for Submarine Cables . . -459 

Bright's Printing Telegraph 4 6 2 

Bright's Arc Lamp .463 

Bright's Continuous Current Dynamo Machine . . 464 

Bright's Alternate-Current Dynamo . . . . . 466 

Family Memoirs 

nrVHE subject of this biography was descended from 
-* the ancient Hallamshire family of Bright, of which 
he represented the senior branch Hallamshire being 
formerly one of the divisions of Yorkshire. 

The most notable member of the family in remote times 
was Colonel Sir John Bright, Bart., of Carbrook Hall and 
Badsworth, who was a military chief under Cromwell, and 
fought with Lord Fairfax in the Parliamentary wars. He 
raised a regiment of horse on his own estates, and was in 
turn Governor of York, Sheffield and Hull. During the 
Commonwealth, Colonel Bright was one of the six represen- 
tatives in Parliament of the West Riding. When, how- 
ever, the execution of King Charles was decided upon, he 
withdrew from the Parliamentarian ranks, and disbanded 
his regiment. He subsequently assisted in the Restoration, 
and was created a baronet. 

The only surviving child of Sir John Bright married 
Sir Henry Liddell, Bart. The eldest son by this marriage, 
Thomas, was the ancestor of the first Lord Ravensworth. 
John, the second son, was made principal heir of his grand- 
father, on whose death he assumed the name and arms of 

i B 



Bright. At one time M.P. for Pontefract, he was the origina- 
tor and first master of the Badsworth Hunt, which, in 
connection with the said John Bright's mastership, boasts 
the oldest hunt song in existence. 

A granddaughter of the above, Mary Bright, was 
married to the Marquis of Rockingham, who was Prime 
Minister for a short time towards the end of the eighteenth 

The pedigree of all branches of the Yorkshire Brights 
is given, with elaborate ramifications, in Hunter's Hallam- 
shire. More recently a condensed edition, with reference 
to this branch of the family, was published in Burke's 
Authorised Arms. 



T)ORN near Wanstead, Essex, on June 8th, 1832, Charles 
U Tilston Bright, the youngest son of Brailsford 
Bright, was brought up with his brothers William and 
Edward, the latter being afterwards especially associated 
with him in telegraph and other electric engineering work. 
Charles Bright's second name (Tilston) came from his grand- 
mother a godchild of Nelson's -who was the daughter 
of Edward Tilston, of Mold, the Tilstons being another 
Yorkshire family of distinction. 

The son of a keen sportsman, young Bright seems to have 
had full opportunities for developing tastes which served 
him and his brother in good stead on subsequent travels 
into various wild and deserted quarters of the world. 

With family connections on the governing body, these 
boys were sent to Merchant Taylors School (one of the 
oldest of our scholastic institutions) at the usual life-period 
at which boys go to a public school. Young Charles evinced, 
if anything, a greater strength in Classics than in Mathe- 
matics ; but there seems little doubt that all three boys 
distinguished themselves bodily rather than mentally dur- 
ing their boyhood, representing their school in the Racquet 
Court as well as on the River. 


In those days Merchant Taylors held a somewhat similar 
position in boating to Eton, and had the benefit of the 
best of Oxford coaches. The two younger brothers thus 
started their career on the river under favourable condi- 
tions. They also had an early opportunity of practising 
their powers at swimming, for on one of the first occasions 
on which they went out in an " outrigger," the eight was 
swamped by the swell of a passing steamer. Indeed, 
what with passing steamers, bridges, boat collisions, etc., 
the brothers had to swim for their lives eight times, in all, 
before completing their rowing experiences on the Thames. 
On one occasion, just after young Charles had been hauled 
aboard the steamer, and was shaking the water off him- 
self, an old gentleman inquired, " May I ask, young man, 
if you're insured ? " It turned out afterwards that this 
worthy old gentleman was a director of a Life Assurance 
Company ! l 

1 It were better, however, to physically prevent than to pecuni- 
arily provide for. May it not be said, indeed, that the parents of 
every child ought to be compelled, by Act of Parliament, to make 
their progeny learn to swim ; and that national baths and instructors 
should be instituted for the purpose ? 


Land Telegraphs 

/CHARLES BRIGHT and his elder brothers were in- 
^-^ tended for an Oxford career ; but owing to heavy 
pecuniary losses on the part of their father, the serious and 
more immediately practical side of life had to be at once 
entered upon. As schoolboys, Edward and Charles had 
very much interested themselves both in electricity and 
chemistry. Thus, soon after its formation in 1847, they 
joined, when respectively sixteen and fifteen years old, 
the Electric Telegraph Company. This came about by 
Charles Bright answering a Times advertisement " for 
gentlemen's sons with education." Young Charles started 
as a telegraph clerk at Harrow Station on the London and 
North-Western Railway, the telegraph work on the line 
being undertaken by the " Electric " Company. 

Young Charles' initial occupation was, then, working 
the telegraph instruments in a railway signalling box, 
varied by sleeping in a local inn when off duty. But he 
foresaw a sufficient future in this new application of Electric 
Science to introduce his two brothers a little later to the 
Company. The elder brother, William, did not for long 
remain attached to electrical work. 1 His tastes and abilities 

1 Of an adventurous turn, he went out to Australia a little later. 
There he died in 1872, leaving a son, Charles Edward, who has 
done good service in telegraphic administration, and is now Deputy 
Postmaster- General to the Australian Commonwealth. 



ran in other directions; but Edward was always more 
or less in double harness with Charles throughout their 
lives. Some time after these two brothers had been 




working with the Electric Company they discovered 
that it was largely under the auspices of that great tele- 
graphic inventor, Mr. (afterwards Sir William) Fothergill 
Cooke, who was a connection by marriage ; but all their 


successes were effected off their own bat, so to speak, and 
without the exercise of any personal interest. 

Within a year of entering upon this new field, both boys 
became inventors. Much of their spare time was devoted 
to thinking over, discussing together, and devising practical 
improvements on the Cooke and Wheatstone and other 
systems of telegraphy. 

In those days, patent fees of 150 had to be paid, in 
addition to the heavy charges to patent agents for drafting, 
drawing, and completing patents. As much as this the 
brothers could not afford, so they contented themselves, 
for the time being, with starting a joint invention book, 
kept under lock and key, into which they, from time to 
time, entered up drawings, descriptions, and dates. These 
were afterwards, with several additions, embodied in the 
famous patent of October 21, 1852. x It suffices to say 
here, that many of the novelties included therein are now 
in common use after a lapse of forty-five years. 2 

Perhaps the most important of their early inventions was 
the system, devised in February, 1849, f testing insulated 
conductors to localise faults from a distant point, by means 
of a series of standard resistance coils of different values, 
brought into circuit successively by turning a connecting 
handle. The preceding drawing, reproduced from the 
1852 specification, shows what is even now the best form 
of resistance coil arrangement in use for testing land and 

1 Patent Specification, No. 14,331 of 1852. 

8 Youthful inventors may not be very uncommon ; but how 
many actually invent anything at the age of seventeen which ever 
comes into practical use ? 


submarine telegraphs. Indeed, capital would never have 
been found for the vast system of submarine cables through- 
out the world without the aid of this invention, which 
enables repairing vessels to at once go to the scene of damage, 
instead of having to pick up and cut the cable here, there 
and everywhere at haphazard. 

The year 1851 saw some important changes in the lives 
of both the brothers. After having for some time been in 
charge of the Birmingham station, Charles left the " Elec- 
tric " Company, and shortly after became Assistant Engineer 
to the lately formed British Telegraph Company, whilst 
Edward joined the Magnetic Telegraph Company. Thus, 
the two brothers became engaged in advancing the early 
stages of two competing concerns a curious and novel 
position. Charles' headquarters were at Manchester, 
whilst Edward was stationed at Liverpool. As a rule, 
however, each passed alternate Sundays with the other. 

On taking up his new position, Charles Bright was at 
once engaged in superintending the erection of telegraphs 
on the Lancashire and Yorkshire and other railways, as well 
as in connecting and fitting up various telegraph offices 
for the Company he was serving at that time. The follow- 
ing is a copy of a letter he wrote to the young lady to whom 
he was now engaged, and who shortly after became his 
wife : 

British Electric Telegraph Company, 


September $th, 1851. 

I received your letter yesterday, but could not answer it, as 
I was fully occupied until past post time. 


You may easily imagine that with 160 miles of line which I 
have to commence at once, and a great many more directly after 
if not nearly at the same time that I have a great deal to look 
after. The only person who could assist me, one of the directors, 
is fully engaged with bringing out a Bill for next Parliament for 
a new railway line. So I am the only manager of telegraphic 
detail for the campaign, in addition to which I have some twenty- 
five long patents to bear in mind as to their separate claims 
and intentions, so as not to infringe any other people's property. 

I look forward to a stormy and active life for the next six 
months in various parts of the country a life which I shall go 
into with pleasure, as I have you as the prize to look and hope 
for. It will not be unpleasant to me however uncomfortable 
generally and disagreeable in detail for, as you know, my aim 
for some time has been to weave a web of wire in opposition to 
the monopoly, and, as I cannot do it for ourselves, I am well 
content to do it for others. Having no stake or responsibility 
in it, I feel more comfortable perhaps than I should have had we 
succeeded in establishing a Company, which would have been 
a case of either make or mar. 

I write you these business details, dearest, because I know they 
will not be tedious to you, and because I think you may have 
wasted your thoughts in speculations as to what I could be doing 
in London ! . . . It is pleasant to be engaged in a work of 
interest to oneself, and how much more when there is an object 
to be worked for so dear as my own B ! 

You will be glad to hear that there is nothing irksome or un- 
pleasant in my position with the Company. Though very young 
(I haven't told them how young !) I am looked up to, and I have 
no reason to be dissatisfied. I am treated kindly and like a 
gentleman, and it is astonishing how much more energetically 
one can work with such treatment than with that distance which 
is so common between directors and officers of a Company. The 
promises held out to me at first have been renewed, and I hope 
I shall hold even a higher position than I was sanguine enough 
to anticipate ; but of course I do not expect everything at once, 


or until the directors receive some return or without some 
actual work and thought. . 

On the success of the Magnetic Company being demon- 
strated, capital was quickly forthcoming for the organisa- 
tion of a powerful Chartered Company under limited lia- 
bility, entitled the English and Irish Magnetic Telegraph 
Company. The headquarters of the new Company were 
located in Liverpool, where most of the capital was repre- 

In 1852, the subject of this memoir, when scarcely twenty 
3^ears of age, was asked by the Board to become their 
Engineer-in-Chief , which post he accepted, resigning his posi- 
tion on the " British." Edward Bright had been Manager 
of the Company for some months previously. 

It was in this year that the brothers took out their famous 
patent, to which allusion has already been made. It con- 
tained twenty-four distinct inventions connected with 
telegraphs, and it may be well here to enumerate some of 
the more important. 

First of all, there was the porcelain insulator for fixing 
aerial telegraph wires mounted on posts. This has been 
found to be a highly efficient method of insulation. 1 It 
was at once adopted on an extensive scale, and, in one form 
or another, it continues in use to the present day. There 
was also its adjunct, the shackle or terminal insulator. 
This is also made of porcelain, and is universally employed 
for terminations, and whenever the wire has to be taken at 

1 In his article on the " Electric Telegraph," in the Encyclopedia 
Britannica, 8th edition, vol. xxi., the late Lord Kelvin referred to 
this as " the best idea for a single telegraphic insulator," 



an angle over houses, for instance, round a corner, or in 
any case where great strains are involved, whether owing 
to long spans or otherwise. 



Then followed the now universal system of aeriel tele- 
graph posts with varying length of arms, to avoid the chance 

of one wire dropping on 

After this came the 
brass tape device for the 
protection of insulated 
conductors of s u b t e r- 
ranean, or submarine, 

There was then a trans- 
lator, or repeater, for re- 
transmitting electric cur- 
rents of either kind in 
both directions on a single 


Another important item in the above famous master 
patent was the plan of testing insulated conductors for 
purposes of fault localisation. This, however, has already 
been referred to. 

There was also a standard galvanometer (foreshadowing 
differential testing) and a new type-printing instrument, as 
well as what was then a novel mode of laying underground 
wires in troughs. 

This patent was taken out when the patentees were 
respectively twenty-one and twenty years of age ; but it 
contained the results of four years' combined thought. 

In addition to the labour and experiments associated with 
the practical application of these improvements for the 
" Magnetic " Company, during 1852, young Bright directed 
the completion of a vast telegraphic system throughout 
the United Kingdom, which had lately been commenced by 
the Company. This included a main trunk line along the 
high-roads, consisting of ten gutta-percha-covered wires 
laid in troughs underground between London, Birmingham 
and Manchester, thence by railway to Liverpool and Pres- 
ton, and six wires onwards, also underground, to Carlisle, 
Dumfries, Glasgow, and Greenock. From Dumfries a 
branch of six underground wires was laid under the roads 
to Portpatrick, to meet the Company's Irish cable. In 
Ireland, the underground system was extended from 
Donaghadee to Belfast, and thence, via Newry and Dundalk, 
to Dublin, comprising in all nearly 7,000 miles of wire. Al- 
though gutta-percha had been discovered in 1843, and its 
insulating qualities had been appreciated by Faraday and 
Werner Siemens as early as 1847, this was the first instance, 


in our country, in which any length of gutta-percha-covered 
cable had been laid underground. 

Let us now consider the nature of this underground sys- 
tem. The form it should take had been very carefully gone 
into by Charles Bright. It was evident that the integrity 
of the insulating coatings of gutta-percha could not be pre- 
served long without some external protection throughout 
the length of each line, as the mere compression of the soil, 
gravel and stones would have at once injured it ; and in 
opening the roads for repair they would experience still 
further damage. 

After discussing the merits of various plans of protection, 
it was finally decided that the wires throughout towns 
should be deposited in 2-J-inch cast-iron piping, divided 
longitudinally, so that the wires might be laid in quickly 
without the tedious and injurious operation of drawing 
through associated with the old system of street work, in 
which the wires were deposited in ordinary gas-piping. On 
the other hand, Bright decided that along the country 
roads which were comparatively little liable to disturbance 
from the construction of sewers, or laying of gas or water 
pipes the wires should be deposited in creosoted wooden 
troughs of about three-inch scantling, cut in long lengths, 
so as to be almost free from the chances of damage upon 
any partial subsidence of the soil. The tops of the troughs 
were to be protected by fastening to them a galvanised 
iron lid. 

Some idea of the trough system for the public highways 
may be gathered from the accompanying sketch. The 


gutta-percha-covered wires were deposited in the square, 
creosoted wooden trough (shown below), after being bound 
together by a lapping of tarred yarn. To deposit the rope 
of insulated conductors in the trough it was first coiled 
upon a large drum, and this was then rolled slowly over the 
trench, which had a depth of some three feet. The rope of 
wires was paid off easily and evenly into its bed. The gal- 
vanised iron lid, about an eighth of an inch thick, was then 


fastened on by clamps (see illustration), and the trench 
filled in again. 

The method adopted in the case of underground wires 
laid in iron troughs under the streets of towns must now 
be described in some detail ; for it was in connection with 
the application of this at Manchester that young Bright 
was first brought into public notice about this time (1852), 
over what was rightly recognised as a remarkable feat. 


It was essential that the traffic of so busy a city should be 
interrupted as little as possible. Charles Bright did not 
interrupt the traffic at all. In one night he had the streets 
up, deposited the wires, and had laid the pavements down 
again before the inhabitants were out of their beds in the 
morning. He was then but nineteen, and received great 
credit in the public journals, notably in The Times, which 
made this piece of work the subject of a leading article. 

The following arrangements for the night's work go to 
show the prescience and energy characteristic of him. A 
large number of navvies were engaged, with competent 
foremen. To each gang was assigned a given length of 
street, along which the flagstones were to be lifted, the 
trench opened to the requisite depth, and the under-halves 
of the pipes laid and linked at the bottom. Another gang 
at once followed, wheeling the drum (whose breadth ex- 
ceeded that of the trench), and unwinding the rope of wires 
into the under-halves of the pipes previously laid down. 
A further gang followed for applying, linking, and tightening 
the upper-halves of the pipes, while yet another set of men 
filled up the trench and replaced the flags. This operation, 
though easily described, required at this early stage of 
telegraphy a great deal of consideration, coupled with very 
active and determined control throughout the short night. 
The following letter, addressed by young Bright to his 
fiancee, will be of interest here, as picturing the scene : 


September nth, 1852. 

Your letter did not arrive until last evening. I should have 
written sooner, but have been very busy. Last night I spent 


entirely out of doors, and as I have not been able to get any 
sleep since, I shall not write long now. ... It is the third 
bedless night I have had lately, and I expect two more next 

I was at Liverpool last night, getting our wires from the station 
to our offices in the Exchange. From the great traffic during 
the day, it is impossible either in Liverpool or Manchester to do 
anything by day, and unless I keep a sharp eye on the men, either 
the pipes are laid too near the surface, or they break gas or 
water pipes and cause expensive repairs. Moreover, they never 
do a third of the work at night unless I am with them ! 

Last night I did the quickest piece of telegraphic work which 
has ever been done. We began at ten, and by eight in the morn- 
ing we had laid piping containing eight wires under the streets 
nearly half a mile, and all repaved. 

Can you fancy such a scene ? A long row of men with pick- 
axes, followed by others with spades, and after them a gang of 
men laying pipes and wires, and, to conclude, another set re-laying 
the paving-stones. This row of workmen are lighted up by 
large fire-grates at intervals, flaring and smoking away like beacons 
on the coast a perfect Babel of voices the continual sharp 
knocking of the pickaxes and the scraping and clanging of the 
pipes being laid and hammered up, added to continued shouting 
for this or that tool. If you can conjure up this, you can fancy 
my figure appearing in the light here and there with two or three 
foremen quite in my element, only I don't like the night. 
I expect you would be very much alarmed if you were unexpec- 
tedly awoke by such a noise and looked out on such a scene ! . . . 

I tell you all about my night's doings, because I was pleased 
at the speed, which I had previously calculated on doing it in. 
The plan was a new one of my own. . . . 

One of Bright 's assistants has described how his chief 
wrote out instructions to the minutest details, even to the 
extent of stating where the vessels of pitch were to be placed, 



besides specifying the temperature of the mixture and that 
it was to be tested before being run into the trough. 1 

Charles Bright subsequently carried out the same work 
through the streets of London, Liverpool and other large 

The great advantage gained in laying these main trunk 
lines underground was that they were thereby absolutely 
beyond the reach of damage by stormy weather. 

Thus it was that the " Magnetic " Company became at 
once a prosperous and successful company ; but Charles 
Bright also personally directed the erection of overhead 
wires on the following railways : The East Lancashire, 
Caledonian, Midland, Great Western, Great Southern and 
Western, Waterford and Limerick, Dublin and Drogheda, 
Belfast junction, Ulster, County Down, Belfast and 
Coleraine, Londonderry and Enniskillen, Londonderry 
and Coleraine. 

The Journal of the Institution of Civil Engineers, in 
its obituary notice, 2 contains the following testimony in 
regard to these undertakings : " All this work, both over- 
head and underground, entailed a vast amount of energy 
and perseverance on the part of Sir Charles Bright, and 
many are the stories related of the difficulties overcome 
in the rapid progress of the underground work." 

The summer of 1853 saw great events in Charles Bright's 

1 Since the original edition, attention has been called in the House 
of Commons, as well as in the Press, to this striking work of young, 
nineteen-year old, Bright, a propos of the disturbance to traffic often 
nowadays experienced in the height of the London season. 

2 Mins. Proc. Inst. C.E., vol. xciii., part iii. 


life. He married, at the age of twenty-one, Miss Taylor, 
daughter of Mr. John Taylor, of Belle vue, Kingston- 
upon-Hull, to whom he had for some time been devotedly 
attached. Mr. Taylor was head of one of the leading mer- 
cantile firms in Hull. Like the Brights, the Taylors, 
and their ancestors the Willots and the Gills, came 
originally from the West Riding of Yorkshire. Charles 
Bright's fiancee was one of the youngest in a family 
of nine. The young couple had become engaged 
nearly two years previously. They had met first while 
staying with mutual cousins, the Henry Brights, near 
Hull. The wedding took place on May nth, 1853, at 
St. James', Hull. These young people started life 
together on an income of about 250. Later on they 
often looked back with pleasure on those early days of 
comparative poverty, which were, nevertheless, some of 
the happiest of their married life. 

In that year (1853) the first effective cable to Ireland 
was made, under Bright's supervision, by Messrs. Newall 
& Company, of Gateshead, and laid between Donaghadee, 
in Ireland, and Portpatrick, in Scotland. This undertaking 
is dealt with in the next chapter. 

At the outset of the " Magnetic " Company's opera- 
tions, the brothers found it necessary to devise fresh appa- 
ratus to compensate for the inductive discharge resulting 
from the long underground circuits, by discharging to 
earth and thus neutralising the recoil currents. From that 
time till the spring of 1854 they carried out a series of 
experiments on the great lengths of subterranean wires 
under their control, in order to investigate this novel 


phenomenon, with a view to working through an Atlantic 
cable. This had been the great object which Charles Bright 
had in view in pushing on the Company's extension in the 
West of Ireland, his idea being at the time that a point 
between Limerick and Galway would be the most suitable 
landing-place for the cable. Some of the results of these 
researches were detailed and illustrated experimentally by 
Edward Bright, at a meeting of the British Association 
at Liverpool, in I854, 1 m an address on " The Retardation 
of Electricity through Long Subterranean Wires." 

During 1854, the brothers were heavily burdened, Charles 
in completing the enormous network of telegraphic wires 
thousands of miles in all that had been constructed 
under his direction with such wonderful rapidity through- 
out the kingdom ; and Edward in acquiring and fitting 
up the stations, organising the staff, making rules and 
regulations for the service, arranging message tariffs and 
supply of news to the Press, etc. 

Time was nevertheless found for other work. They 
engaged in experiments with the late Mr. Staite, on the 
electric light then in its absolute infancy. Mr. Staite's 
arc lamp had been exhibited for some months on the Liver- 
pool Landing Stage, till the pilots complained (as well as 
the steamboat captains) that it dazzled them and hindered 
their steering on the river Mersey. 

At this period, both the brothers materially aided the 
late Admiral Fitzroy in the inauguration of his plan of 
daily telegraphic reports in connection with the newly- 
born Meteorological Department of the Board of Trade, and 
1 See British Association Reports, 1854. 


the storm-warning system which the Admiral had organ- 
ised. They arranged for the requisite barometers, thermo- 
meters, wind gauges, etc., to be set up at a number of the 
Magnetic Company's stations, especially in the West of 
Ireland and Scotland, including Cape Clear, Limerick, 
Tralee, Galway, Portrush, Ayr, Ardrossan, etc., where 
coming changes of weather are, as a rule, first indicated 
from the Atlantic. The " Magnetic " staff were duly 
instructed in the taking of observations twice daily. These 
were then telegraphed to the Meteorological Office in Lon- 
don by means of a concise code, drawn up by Admiral Fitz- 
roy and Charles Bright, with a view to expediting the mes- 
sages by reducing their length, as it did, by about one-fifth. 
Although at the outset these weather forecasts were some- 
what tentative and were much derided, their vast utility 
in lessening the danger to life at sea was not long in being 
recognised, and the forecasting of the weather has now, by 
dint of experience, become almost an exact science. 

At the end of the year 1855 a revolution was effected in 
the telegraphic apparatus used by the " Magnetic." This 
company had up to the period in question employed 
Henley's magneto-electric telegraph instruments. Young 
Bright, however, perceiving the objection to any instru- 
ment based on visual signalling, set to work to devise an 
apparatus which would communicate signals to the ear. 
The result was that in 1854 he produced the Acoustic 
Telegraph, since commonly known as " Bright 's Bells." 

The cardinal features of this invention (Patent Specifica- 
tion No. 2,103 of 1855) were set forth in Noad and Preece's 
Student's Text Book of Electricity, as follows : 



Under the ordinary system of telegraphing, it is necessary 
to employ a transcriber to write down the words as interpreted 
from the visual signals and dictated to him by the receiving 
operator, whose eyes being fixed on the rapidly moving needles 
could not be engaged in conjunction with his hands in writing. 
It was found that, owing to the frequent occurrence of words 
of nearly similar sound, the transcriber sometimes unavoidably 
misunderstood the meaning of the receiving operator, and 
altered the sense of the despatch by writing the wrong word. 
Such words as two, too, to ; four, for ; hour, our, etc., may, for 
instance, be very easily confounded. These errors cannot, how- 
ever, arise when the clerk, who, having heard each word pass 
through the acoustic telegraph letter by letter, is able his eyes 
being at liberty to himself write what he has received without 
the aid of an amanuensis. Besides the saving in staff (of writers) 
and in mistakes, any injury to the eyes of the clerks is pre- 
vented, and an appeal is made to an organ far better capable of 
endurance and accurate interpretation. 

The general principle of the instrument consists in the 
sounding of two bells of different pitch by different cur- 
rents. The letters and words are readily formed from 
the difference in their tone and the number of beats, the 

same (Morse) 
alphabet being 
employed as in 
other telegraph 

The nature of 
the apparatus is 
shown in the ac- 
companying illus- 


tration : 


a is the hammer of the bell, held back to a stop by a flexible 
spring. The rod of the hammer is fixed to the projecting 
horns of the movable soft iron core of an electro-magnet 
b'. This electro-magnet b' is placed opposite to a fixed 
horse-shoe electro-magnet b ; and the connections are 
so arranged that, on the current passing from the relay, 
the electro-magnets are polarised with their opposite poles 
to one another. Upon a current passing, the bell affected 
is at once struck, and the bell being muffled so as to pro- 
duce a short sound, the blow may be repeated as rapidly 
as desired without any vibration caused by one sound 
interfering with that succeeding it. 

A local battery supplies the mechanical power required 
to strike the bells. The battery is put in connection with 
either bell, according to the current positive or negative- 
passed through a relay, shown in the next illustration, where 
also may be seen the general arrangement. Here, the 
receiving clerk with his head bet ween the two different toned 
bells, each fixed to a wooden partition can readily distin- 
guish the signals corresponding to the beats of the needle. 
As fast as he does so, he writes down their significance. 

The keys with which currents are sent to work this ap- 
paratus are of a simple commutating form. By pressing 
down one lever, the current is made to pass in one direction, 
and in the reverse when the other lever is used. 

This form of telegraph, like the Morse (sounder or writer) 
and other instruments of to-day, requires only one wire. 
In point of speed, however, it has a great advantage, as it 
utilises both positive and negative currents, while the Morse 
is only available for one current. Thus, the acoustic instru- 


ment only occupies in the transmission of the alphabet 
about half the time of the American apparatus, and is, more- 
over, much faster * than any type of visual telegraph 
(except, of course, those worked on the Wheatstone auto- 
matic system), for reasons already explained. It is also far 
more accurate. So simple and yet speedy in its working, this 


invention in still in extensive use, mainly owing to the 
great increase in press messages. 

During 1855, young Bright thought out another impor- 
tant invention with his brother. This consisted of a 
system of duplex telegraphy, fully described in the same 
specification. This was worked successfully between 
London and Birmingham. As, however, the " Magnetic " 

1 A speed of forty words a minute is frequently attained. 


Company's traffic did not then fill their wires, the system 
was temporarily laid on one side. 

During the year 1856 some of the Magnetic Company's 
underground lines began to give trouble. The authorities 
thereupon set themselves to consider how they could best 
extend their overhead system. This culminated in the 
absorption of the British Telegraph Company, which had 
exclusive rights for overhead telegraphs along the public 
roadways. After the above amalgamation, the under- 
ground wires were only used in places where circumstances 
rendered them specially desirable. The new " Magnetic " 
had an agreement with the Submarine Telegraph Company, 
under which the whole of the latter's cables were to be 
worked in connection with the land lines belonging to the 

Charles Bright remained engineer-in-chief to the 
Magnetic Company until about 1860, from which time 
(owing to press of other work) he held a consulting position 
only. Thereupon Edward Bright assumed the engineership 
in addition to the general management. 

The business of some of the early telegraph companies 
with which Charles Bright was connected flourished so 
well that they were able to pay dividends as high as 15 
per cent, per annum, the Magnetic Company maintaining a 
steady dividend of not less than 12 per cent, for a number 
of years. 


The Cable to Ireland 

AT the date of the first cable to Ireland, two submarine 
cables had already been submerged. 1 The first 
serious attempt was that projected and primarily promoted 
by the brothers Brett ; this was eventually carried to a 
successful issue in 1851, by Mr. Thomas Russell Crampton, 
a civil engineer of distinction. Prior to these, in 1849, 
an experimental line with a gutta-percha core had been 
laid by Mr. C. V. Walker, F.R.S., in the English Channel, 
for some distance off Folkestone. Also in the following 
year, another unprotected gutta-percha insulated conductor 
had been laid between England and France by Mr. Charlton 
Wollaston, acting as engineer to the Submarine Telegraph 
Company. Through want of armoured protection, both 
of these latter failed to be effective. The second successful 
line was that between Dover and Ostend, being also on 
behalf of the Submarine Telegraph Company. 2 Thus 

1 Submarine Telegraphs : Their History, Construction and Working. 
By Charles Bright, F.R.S.E., A.M.Inst.C.E., M.I.Mech.E., M.I.E.E. 
(London: Crosby Lockwood & Son, 1888). 

2 Since Bright's death this Company's cable system has been 
absorbed by the State and worked by H.M. Post Office. The transfer 
of the business took place in 1889, and has proved a serious matter 
pecuniarily to Sir Charles' family. The late Sir Julian Goldsmid, 
as chairman, did his best to bring about a satisfactory arrangement ; 
but, in the end, the Company and its shareholders came off very 
poorly at the hands of the Government. 



Bright 's line to Ireland was the third submarine cable 
communication successfully carried out. It was, however, 
in much deeper water than had hitherto been experienced. 1 
As three previous attempts (made by others) to lay a line 
across the Irish Channel had failed, every care was taken 
to ensure success. 


An important improvement was effected in the design 
of this cable as compared with what immediately preceded 

1 Referring to this line in subsequent years, the late Lord 
Kelvin when speaking in regard to the proposed memorial to the 
Inception of Submarine Telegraphy remarked : "Thus, Sir 
Charles Bright was the first to successfully lay a cable in really 
deep water." 


it. In this case an inner bedding of yarn was supplied 
for the six insulated wires (see illustration). The total 
weight of the cable was seven tons to the mile. The manu- 
facture was carried out unaccompanied by any serious 
mishap. As fast as it was made, it was coiled up on the 
wharf ready for shipment. When the time for shipment 
came, the massive six-core cable was stowed away in the 
hold of the laying vessel in an oblong coil. 

It so happened that the submergence of this line had to 
take place during the days closely following upon Charles 
Bright's marriage. The expedition was graced by the 
presence of his bride, who was thus able to assist at the 
telegraphic union of Great Britain and Ireland. The 
expedition consisted of the screw steamer William Hutt 
(with the cable and apparatus on board), the Conqueror, 
and the Wizard. The ships were under the navigation con- 
trol of Captain Hawes, R.N., especially appointed by the 
Admiralty. Beside young Bright and his bride, there 
were on board during the expedition : Mr. Newall, the 
contractor ; Mr. Statham, of the Gutta-Percha Company ; 
Mr. William Reid, and Mr. T. B. Moseley. 

Starting operations from the Irish coast, the shore end of 
the cable was first landed at a point about two miles from 
the south of Donaghadee Harbour, Co. Down, and the 
laying of the deep-sea cable was then proceeded with. This 
undertaking was not, however, without its vicissitudes. 
The arrangements and apparatus then employed for sub- 
merging a cable were, it need scarcely be said, not of the 
complete character with which experience has endowed 


us to-day. Each coil was turned bodily over by the men 
below to take the turn out in emerging to the guide pulley 
above, whence it passed through a rotometer, or speed 
measurer, to a large drum on deck. Round this drum 
it took several turns before passing into the sea over an iron 
rail at the stern. The drum was fitted with a flexible iron 
strap on its circumference, attached to a lever hand-brake, 
to check the cable's rate of delivery outboard. Without 
this precaution, in the deeper water (nearly a quarter of a 
mile in places) the heavy monster would have " taken 
charge " altogether. As it was when a heavyish sea 
arose about midway across notwithstanding the efforts 
of the man in the hold, one turn got on several occasions 
under another, making a " foul flake," which would pass 
up in a tangled mass. This necessitated the stopping 
of the ship and a temporary cessation of paying-out opera- 
tions till the great knot was unravelled. Such an opera- 
tion as this is no easy matter when the extreme rigidity of 
this heavily armoured cable, with its twelve stout iron wires, 
is considered. 

Thus it was that the expedition did not arrive and anchor 
off Port Patrick, on the southern border of Wigtownshire, 
until midnight, the landing of the shore end being deferred 
till the following morning. This final operation was 
performed, amid much enthusiasm, in Mora Bay, a little 
to the north of Port Patrick. As soon as the cable end had 
been taken up to the position assigned for it, the signal- 
ling apparatus was put into operation, and the following 
message despatched to Dublin : 



May 2yd, 1853. 

The Directors of the British and Irish Magnetic Telegraph 
Company beg to acquaint His Excellency the Lord Lieutenant 
that they have this morning successfully effected communication 
between the shores of Great Britain and Ireland by means of a 
submarine cable from Port Patrick to Donaghadee. 

The cable lasted, with slight repairs, for many years 
up to, and long after, the purchase of the Magnetic 
Company's lines by Government, in 1870. 

In later years, when referring to this expedition, Sir 
Charles Bright used to humorously remark that, so long 
as we had telegraphic communication with Ireland, there 
could be no possible need for discussing the question of 
Irish Home Rule. 



The Atlantic Cable 

Investigations and Stepping-Stones 

WE now come to the most arduous, as well as the 
most interesting and memorable achievement of 
Charles Bright's career, namely, the telegraphic linking of 
England and America by submarine cable. 

In A Midsummer Night's Dream, Shakespeare makes 
Puck say, " I'll put a girdle round about the earth in forty 
minutes ! " Though little Puck never carried out his boast, 
the subject of our memoir in the undertaking here referred 
to went some way towards realising it in practice. From 
this he acquired such fame, whilst only twenty-six years old, 
as few men engaged in carrying out the great works of 
the world can ever hope to attain. This achievement was 
characterised by The Times as " the accomplishment of the 
age," and by Prof. Morse as " the great feat of the century." 

The part Bright took in this then unprecedented enter- 
prise included the scientific demonstration of its practica- 
bility, the projection, the provision of capital, the organisa- 
tion, and the ultimate successful laying of 2,200 miles of 
cable across ocean depths of two to three miles, in the 


face of storms, repeated breakages, and every kind of 
difficulty. By his scientific knowledge, ingenuity, and 
determined pluck, he carried it through at a time when only 
a few short cables had been successfully laid mostly in 
comparative^ shallow water and when the art of submarine 
cable work was in its infancy as regards construction, insula- 
tion, and mechanical appliances. Nothing so daring as 
a cable laid in an open seaway had, in fact, yet been at- 
tempted ; and in his Presidential Address to the Institution 
of Electrical Engineers, in 1889, Lord Kelvin, referring to 
this undertaking, said : " We must always feel indebted to 
Sir Charles Bright as the pioneer in that great work, when 
other engineers would not look at it, and thought it was 
absolutely impracticable." Many at Bright's age would 
have flinched at the responsibility with so limited an ex- 

Before the Atlantic Telegraph could assume a practical 
shape, the following had to be effected l : 

1. Ocean soundings, showing the depths and nature of the 
sea-bottom, required to be taken and placed on record. 

2. Experiments had to be made to prove that a conductor, 
insulated with gutta percha, and of the necessary length (over 
2,000 miles), could be signalled through for telegraphic purposes. 

3. A suitable form of cable for the specific purpose must be 

4. Provision had to be made to prevent competition, so that 
for some time, at least a fair return might accrue to those who 
staked their capital in what then appeared so risky an enterprise. 

5. The confidence of the moneyed mercantile class who would 

1 The Story of the Atlantic Cable. By Charles Bright, F.R.S.E., 
M.I.E.E. (London: George Newnes, Ltd., 1903). 



mostly benefit by such a means of communication required 
to be won ; and 

6. Government recognition had to be obtained, and, if possible, 
Government subsidies. 

Lieutenant O. H. Berryman, U.S.N., had run a line of 
deep-sea soundings in the Atlantic basin between New- 
foundland and Ireland in the summer of 1856, from the U.S. 
steamer Arctic. The soundings gave a general depth of 
about two miles and a half, gradually shoaling on the New- 
foundland side, but rising more quickly towards the Irish 
shore. The entire route was marked by an oozy bottom, 
of which specimens brought to the surface were shown 
under the microscope to consist of the tiny shells of animal- 
cula the indestructible outside skeletons of diatomacea 
and fomminifem. No sand or gravel was found on the ocean 
bed, from which it was deduced that no currents or other 
disturbing elements existed at those depths. The plateau, 
or ridge, which extended for some 400 miles in breadth, was, 
in fact, considered a veritable feather-bed for a cable, 
when once weather and other conditions allowed of its 
safe submersion. Lieut. M. F. Maury, U.S.N., Chief of the 
National U.S. Observatory to whom the observations and 
results of Lieut. Berryman were referred made a long 
report to the Secretary of the U.S. Navy, dated February 
22, 1854, in which he remarked : 

This line of deep-sea soundings seems to be decisive on the ques- 
tion of the practicability of a submarine telegraph between the 
two continents, in so far as the bottom of the deep sea is concerned. 
From Newfoundland to Ireland the distance between the nearest 
points is about 1,600 miles ; and at the bottom of the sea be- 



tween the two places there exists a " plateau," or shallow plat- 
form, which seems to have been placed especially for the purpose 
of holding the wires of a submarine telegraph, and of keeping them 
out of harm's way. . . . But whether it would be better to lead 
the wires from Newfoundland or Labrador is not now the point 
at issue ; not do I pretend to consider the question as to the 
possibility of findings time calm enough, the sea smooth enough, 
a wire long enough, or a ship big enough to lay a coil of wire six- 
teen hundred miles in length. Still, I have no fear but that the 
enterprise and ingenuity of the age, whenever called upon to 
solve these problems, will be ready with a satisfactory and prac- 
tical solution of them. 

Similar conclusions to these were arrived at from the 
soundings taken in the North Atlantic by Commander 
Joseph Dayman, R.N., in H.M.S. Cyclops, a little while 

The possibility of laying an Atlantic line had taken firm 
hold in the mind of Charles Bright, ever since the success- 
ful laying of the cables to France, Ireland, and Belgium. 
Between 1853 and 1855, he and his brother Edward had 
(as already stated) carried on an extensive series of experi- 
ments on the great lengths of underground gutta-percha- 
covered wires under their management. In these wires 
the conditions were similar, electrically speaking, to those 
existing in the case of a submarine cable. By linking the 
wires to and fro between London and Dublin including 
the conductors of one of the Irish cables or employing 
the ten wires between London and Manchester, Charles 
Bright was enabled to extend these investigations until the 
total length under test was upwards of 2,000 miles. He was 
thus able to determine the practicability of working through 


a cable of the length required to connect Ireland with New- 

To avoid interrupting the traffic, the experiment had to 
be made during the night, or on Sundays. Hence, on many 
occasions, young Bright was unable to return home at the 
end of a heavy's day work. 

The inductive effect observed in the earlier stage of 
these trials was then an entirely novel phenomenon, as was 
also the consequent retardation of the current. In 1855, 
the practical results of these researches were included 
in a patent taken out by Charles Bright and his brother 
for signalling through long distances of gutta-percha- 
insulated conductors by the employment of alternating 

During these years the Magnetic Company's system had 
been completed by Bright through Ireland, and extended 
to the West Coast at various points, including Limerick, 
Galway, Sligo, Portrush, Tralee, and Cape Clear Island. 
The wires were erected mostly on the railways and under 
exclusive agreements ; and a few miles' extension from one 
or other of these stations would suffice to connect the system 
to an Atlantic cable. 

While Charles Bright was engaged on the completion of 
his experiments preliminary to the great Atlantic work, 
his brother accompanied by some of the " Magnetic " staff 
took an opportunity of surveying, in the summer of 1855, 
the westernmost part of the Irish coast in a fishing smack, 
for the purpose of ascertaining the best landing-place for 
the proposed cable. The main conditions .required by Bright 
were : 


(1) Freedom from anchorage. 

(2) Shelter from rough weather. 

(3) A smooth bottom for the heavy shore end of the cable, 

and the deeper part at the approach clear of rocks. 

Various small harbours and bays between Bantry Bay and 
Ventry Harbour were examined ; also Doulas Bay, Valentia, 
leading up to the Cahirciveen on the mainland. Valentia 
Harbour was eventually considered to best comply with 
requirements beside being almost the nearest point to the 
outstretched hand of Newfoundland and Edward Bright 
reported accordingly to his brother Charles. 1 

Whilst Ireland was thus telegraphically equipped as the 
great stepping-stone on this side of the ocean, matters on the 
American side were not so far advanced. The work there 
was much heavier, for it involved a long land telegraph across 
Newfoundland over a very wild country. 

In 1852, Mr. Frederick Newton Gisborne, an English 
engineer, in concert with a small American syndicate, had 
obtained an exclusive concession and sole cable landing 
rights for thirty years in Newfoundland, subject to the erec- 
tion of a line between St. John's and Cape Ray in the Gulf 
of St. Lawrence, whence news and messages were to be 
passed to and from Cape Breton, on the other side of the Gulf, 
by steamer or carrier pigeons. A few miles of cable were 
made in England, and laid between Prince Edward Island 
and New Brunswick with much difficulty. Mr. Gisborne 

1 The selection has been abundantly justified, as may be gathered 
from the number of Atlantic cables since landed there, or in the 
immediate vicinity. 


then surveyed the route for the Newfoundland line, and 
even erected about forty miles of it. At this stage, his 
American associates stopped supplies. When in New York, 
in 1854, however, Gisborne was fortunately introduced to 
Cyrus West Field, a retired Merchant. Mr. Field was a 
man of sanguine temperament and intense business energy l ; 
and having caught on to the idea of the Atlantic Cable, had 
the acumen to recognise the importance of turning to useful 
purpose the exclusive rights granted to Mr. Gisborne. He 
formed a strong syndicate with half a dozen friends, and 
procured a concession with improved terms. 

Armed with this apparent monopoly, but as his brother, 
Mr. Henry Field, expressed it, " with no experience in the 
business of laying a submarine telegraph," the presiding genius 
of this Newfoundland Company was despatched to England 
at the end of 1854, where he ordered a cable of about eighty 
miles, to span the Gulf of St. Lawrence between Cape Ray 
and the Island of Cape Breton. There he became acquainted 
with Mr. John Watkins Brett, who, with his brother Jacob, 
had taken the foremost part in establishing the first lines 
to France and Belgium. In the spring of 1855, Mr. Brett 
took 5,000 in shares and bonds in the " Newfoundland " 
Company, thus becoming a partner on equal terms with 
Mr. Field and the other members of the syndicate. 

The attempt to lay the Cape Breton cable was a failure, 

1 In his 1887 Inaugural Address to the Society of Telegraph 
Engineers (now the Institution of Electrical Engineers), Sir Charles 
described Mr. Field as " rapid in thinking and acting, and endowed 
with courage and perseverance under difficulties qualities which 
are rarely met with " (see Journal I.E.E., vol. xvi., p. 7). 


partly owing to rough weather. But in the following year 
the Contractors (Messrs. Glass, Elliot & Co.) successfully 
accomplished the task; and in 1856 the aerial land line 
was stretched across Newfoundland. 

Thus, then, the series of stepping-stones were now also 
completed on the American side. 

Formation of the Company and Construction of the Cable 

The next step towards the realisation of the enterprise, 
in which Charles Bright's energy was centred, had better 
be told in his own words : * 

In July, 1856, Mr. Cyrus Field, the deputy-chairman of the 
New York and Newfoundland Telegraph Company, left America 
for London, empowered by his associates to deal with the ex- 
clusive concession possessed by that Company for the coast of 
Newfoundland and other rights in Nova Scotia. He had been 
here before about telegraph business, and I had discussed the 
Atlantic line with him in the previous year. 

On September 2gth, 1856, an agreement was entered into be- 
tween Mr. Brett, Mr. Field, and myself, by which we mutually, and 
on equal terms, engaged to exert ourselves with the view to, and for 
the purpose of, forming a Company for establishing and working 
of electric telegraphic communication between Newfoundland and 
Ireland, such Company to be called the " Atlantic Telegraph Com- 
pany," or by such other name as the parties hereto shall jointly 
agree upon. 

1 Sir Charles Bright's Presidential Address to the Society of 
Telegraph Engineers and Electricians, 1887. 


We here reproduce the signatures as they are at the foot 
of this agreement : 

The above " promoters and projectors " were a little 
later joined by Mr. Edward Orange Wildman Whitehouse, 
originally a medical practitioner. Mr. Whitehouse had been 
engaged for some time upon experiments similar to those 
on which the brothers Bright had worked, with a view to 
overcoming the difficulties incidental to long distance 
ocean telegraphy. 

The time had now come for action. As a result of con- 
siderable discussion, the two Governments concerned 
came to recognise the grandeur and feasibility of this un- 
dertaking for linking together the two English-speaking 
nations, and the benefits it would confer upon humanity. 
Both the English and United States Governments gave a 
subsidy, which jointly amounted to eight per cent, on the 
capital, but payable only while the cable worked. 


The Atlantic Telegraph Company was registered on 
October 20th, 1856. 

The Magnetic Company, under the management of 
Charles Bright, had proved a success from its foundation 
in 1852. The lines had been constructed, and the staff 
trained, under his supervision ; while the improved tele- 
graphic apparatus, and appliances employed, were devised 
by him. The headquarters were in Liverpool ; and the 
shareholders were composed of . the leading merchants 
and shipowners there, as well as in Manchester, London, 
Glasgow and Dublin. The Magnetic Company's Board 
was composed of practical business men, who fully appre- 
ciated the immense advantages which direct communication 
with America would bring them, not only as regards their 
trade, but on account of increased traffic over the " Mag- 
netic " lines, which alone extended through Ireland. The 
directors had also acquired thorough confidence in their 
comparatively youthful engineer, whilst appreciating the 
value of the experiments and scientific investigations which 
he had carried out. 

The first meeting of the " Atlantic " Company was 
convened for November I2th, 1856, at the Underwriters' 
Rooms in the Exchange, Liverpool, by a small circular, on 
a half-sheet of notepaper, issued by Mr. Edward Bright 
from the Magnetic Company's chief office. Most of the 
enterprise, influence, and wealth of the town were repre- 
sented, and the inspiriting addresses of Messrs. Field and 
Brett, accompanied by the scientific explanations (and 
answers to questions) of Charles Bright, were exceedingly 
well received. 


So much enthusiasm had been aroused by the experi- 
ments and explanations already alluded to, that in the 
course of a few days the entire capital was raised by 
the issue of 350 shares of 1,000 each, chiefly taken up 
by the shareholders of the Magnetic Company. The 
public lists were opened at the latter's headquarters in 
the Exchange, Liverpool, and at their other principal 
offices. The first to put down their names were Charles 
Bright and two old friends, Mr. Joseph Hubback (Mayor 
of Liverpool), and Mr. Charles Pickering (of Messrs. 
Schroder & Co.), the two former for 2,000 each, and 
the latter for 6,000. Subsequently, Mr. J. W. Brett, 
who was a man of wealth, took up shares to the value 
of 25,000, Mr. Field following his example for a similar 

The formation of the Company was absolutely unique 
at the time, and formed a fit complement to the grandeur 
of the enterprise. There was no promotion money ; no 
prospectus was published. There were no advertisements, 
no brokers, and no commissions were paid ; nor were 
there either board of directors or executive officers. The 
election of a Board was left to a meeting of shareholders, 
to be held after the allotment of shares had been made 
by a provisional committee. Any remuneration of the 
projectors was made wholly dependent upon, and subject 
to, the profits of the shareholders amounting to 10 per 
cent, per annum, the surplus being then divided between 
the promoters and the Company. 

To show the interest taken in the scheme, even those 
entirely unconnected with business took shares, among 


others being the widow of Lord Byron, and Mr. Thackeray 
the author. 

Mr. Field had reserved 75,000 for American subscrip- 
tion, for which he signed, in addition to what he took for 
himself ; but his confidence in his compatriots turned 
out to be greatly misplaced. The result has been thus 
told by Mr. Henry Field l : 

In taking so large a share it was not his intention to 
carry this load alone. It was too large a proportion for 
one man. But he took it for his countrymen. He thought 
one-fourth of the stock should be held in this country (the 
United States) and he did not doubt, from the eagerness with 
which three-fourths had been taken in England, that the 
remainder would be at once subscribed in America. 

It was only, in fact, after much trouble that subscribers 
were obtained in America for a total of twenty-seven shares 
or less than one-twelfth of the total capital. The faith 
of the Americans in the project proved to be small ; for 
notwithstanding their confessed enthusiasm they certainly 
did not readily rise to the occasion, and when they did 
so it was only after considerable pressure. 

The negotiations with Government led to important 
results, which were thus embodied in a letter : 


November loth, 1856. 

Having laid before the Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty's 
Treasury your letter of the I5th ult., addressed to the Earl of 

1 Brother of Mr. Cyrus Field. He subsequently wrote an animating 
description of the enterprise. 


Clarendon, requesting certain privileges and protection in regard 
to the line of telegraph which it is proposed to establish between 
Newfoundland and Ireland, I am directed by their Lordships 
to inform you that they are prepared to enter into a contract, 
based upon the following conditions, viz. 

1. It is understood that the capital required to lay down the 
line will be (350,000) three hundred and fifty thousand pounds. 

2. Her Majesty's Government engage to furnish the aid of 
ships to take what soundings may still be considered needful, or 
to verify those already taken, and favourably to consider any 
request that may be made to furnish aid by their vessels in laying 
down the cable. 

3. The British Government, from the time of the connection 
of the line, and so long as it shall continue in working order, 
undertakes to pay at the rate of (14,000) fourteen thousand 
pounds a year, being at the rate of four per cent, on the assumed 
capital, as a fixed remuneration for the work done on behalf of 
the Government, in the conveyance outward and homeward of 
their messages. This payment to continue until the net profits 
of the proposed Company are equal to a dividend of six pounds 
per cent, per annum, when the payment shall be reduced to 
(10,000) ten thousand pounds a year, for a period of twenty-five 

It is, however, understood that if the Government messages 
in any year shall, at the usual tariff charged to the public, 
amount to a larger sum, such additional payment shall be made 
as equivalent thereto. 

4. That the British Government shall have a priority in the 
conveyance of their messages over all others, subject to the excep- 
tion only of the Government of the United States, in the event 
of their entering into an arrangement with the Telegraph Com- 
pany similar in principle to that of the British Government, in 
which case the messages of the two Governments shall have 
priority in the order in which they arrive at the stations. 

5. That the tariff of charges shall be fixed with the consent 


of the Treasury, and shall not be increased, without such con- 
sent being obtained, as long as this contract lasts. 

I am, Sir, 

Your obedient servant, 


The first meeting of shareholders took place on December 
gth, 1856, and a board of directors was elected. The first 
chairman was Mr. Brown, M.P. (afterwards Sir William 
Brown, Bart.), Mr. Samuel Gurney, M.P., and after him 
Mr. T. H. Brooking, being deputy-chairman, whilst Mr. 
Lampson (later Sir Curtis Lampson, Bart.) was vice-chair- 
man. At a subsequent date the chair was occupied by the 
Right Hon. James Stuart- Wortley, M.P. 

To instance the large part taken by the Magnetic Company 
in this undertaking, no less than ten of the Board of the 
" Atlantic " were also directors or shareholders of the 
" Magnetic," prominent amongst them being Mr. Brett 
and Mr. (afterwards Sir John) Pender, who was ultimately 
associated with so many cable enterprises. 

Professor William Thomson, of Glasgow afterwards 
Lord Kelvin, G.C.V.O., F.R.S. was a tower of scientific 
strength on the Board. He had been from the outset a 
great believer in the Atlantic Cable, having, indeed, stated 
his views as to its practicability before the Royal Society 
in the year 1854. His acquisition as a director was 
destined to prove of vast importance in influencing the 
development of trans-oceanic communication ; for his 
subsequent experiments on the Atlantic Cable during 
1857-58 led up to his invention of the mirror galvanometer 
and signalling instrument, whereby the most attenuated 


currents of electricity, which were incapable of producing 
visible signals on other telegraph apparatus, were so magni- 
fied in their effect by reflection as to be readily legible. 

Charles Bright was appointed Engineer-in-Chief by the 
Board, with Mr. Whitehouse as Electrician. Mr. Cyrus Field 
became the General Manager, and later, Managing Director. 

The chart on next page (a reproduction of the original) 
shows the route proposed and adopted for the cable, 
together with the line of soundings taken by Lieut. 
Berryman and Commander Dayman. 

Charles Bright recommended a cable with a much larger 
copper conductor than had ever been used before, weighing, 
in fact, 3! cwt. (392 Ib.) per nautical mile, and the same 
weight of gutta-percha for the insulator, but he found that 
this point had been settled and the contract given out 
before he became engineer. 1 Indeed, a provisional commit- 
tee of those registering the Company had in their anxiety 
to save time and to enable the work to be carried out 
during the summer of 1857 entered into contracts for a 
cable with only 107 Ib. of copper conductor per nautical 
mile and 261 Ib. of gutta-percha insulation. It is true 
that the core specified by Charles Bright would have weighed 
on the 2,500 miles of cable to be shipped about 460 tons 
more ; but the cable having upwards of 3^ times the con- 
ducting power the signalling speed he calculated on from 

1 On being consulted by the Government in regard to the pro- 
posed Falmouth-Gibraltar line in 1859, Bright recommended the 
same core as above. In this instance he had the satisfaction of 
seeing his recommendation adopted, though the cable was ultimately 
applied to connecting up Malta and Alexandria. 



the preceding experiments would then have been realised 
besides which the insulation would have been more reliable. 
Unfortunately, those who had arranged for the smaller 
core were fully supported by Mr. Whitehouse's views ; 
which, moreover, received entire approval from that great 
electrical savant, Michael Faraday, as well as from Pro- 
fessor Morse. The latter reported that " large coated 
wires used beneath the water, or the earth, are worse con- 
ductors so far as velocity of transmission is concerned 
than small ones ; and therefore are not so well suited as 
smaU ones for the purposes of submarine transmission of 


telegraphic signals." Not so, however, Professor Thomson, 
who had previously crossed swords with Mr. Whitehouse 
in connection with the latter's B.A. paper of 1854, on 
" Experimental Observations on an Electric Cable." Mr. 
Whitehouse appeared to consider a low inductive capacity 
as the one and only point to be aimed at in the design of 
a submarine conductor, without regard to the resistance 
offered by the wire to an electric current. On his appoint- 
ment as engineer, Charles Bright made every effort to 
get the contract altered in favour of the larger conductor 
which he had recommended ; but this change was not 
-CQ^dered practicable, as it would have meant the raising 
of a considerable amount of further capital. 



What the actual manufacture of the cable alone entailed, 
the following detailed description will serve to show : 

The conductor, weighing 107 Ib. per nautical mile, con- 
sisted of seven strands of copper wire, each of No. 22 gauge, 
covered with 261 Ib. of gutta-percha, in three separate 
layers, r8 to No. 'oo B.W.G. f inch. This insulated 
core was then served spirally with hemp yarn saturated 
with a preservative composition of tar, pitch, linseed oil, 
and wax. The core was next protected by an armour of 
eighteen iron strands, each composed of seven fine wires 
also of No. 22 gauge, wound 
around 1 in a long spiral. 2 The 
finished cable then received a 
coating of a cold mixture (re- 
ferred to further on) of tar, 
pitch and linseed oil. Its weight 
in air was about 20 cwt., and in 
water 13^ cwt., with a breaking 
strain of about 13!- tons. 


1 The manner in which the specimens had been given out for 
tender by the original provisional committee to the different firms, 
led to the wires being eventually applied with an opposite lay at the 
two sheathing factories. On Charles Bright becoming engineer he 
learnt what had been done by the Committee. The matter was not, 
however, considered to be serious, neither was it found so afterwards. 

2 This particular type of iron sheathing was adopted partly at 
the suggestion of the late Mr. Isambard Kingdom Brunei, F.R.S., 
one of the greatest engineers of the day. Mr. Glass also strongly 
recommended it. Nowadays, such wires would be considered too 
fine, besides the stranding being, on the whole, undesirable ; but at 
that time there was great difficulty in obtaining a high-class wire 
from larger gauges. 


For each end approaching the shore, the sheathing (see 
illustration) consisted of twelve wires of No. o gauge, mak- 
ing the total weight over eight tons to the mile. This type 
was adopted for the first ten miles from the Irish coast, 
and for fifteen miles from the landing at Newfoundland, at 
both of which localities rocks had been found to abound 

Only six months was allowed for the manufacturers to 
complete the 2,500 miles. This involved the preparation 
and drawing of 17,500 miles of copper and stranding it into 
the 2,500 miles of conductor. Then the three separate 
coatings of gutta-percha had to be applied outside, and 
subsequently the yarn. Finally 315,000 miles of char- 
coal-iron wire had to be drawn and laid up into 45,000 
miles of strand, and the core then to be covered with 
it. The entire length of copper and iron wire employed 
was therefore 322,500 miles enough to engirdle the earth 
thirteen times, and considerably more than enough to 
extend from the earth to the moon. 

The manufacture of the core was entrusted to the Gutta- 
Percha Company, and that for the outer sheathing divided 
between Messrs. Glass, Elliot & Co., and Messrs. R. S. 
Newall & Co., the former to cover half the cable with its 
outer sheath at East Greenwich, and the latter to treat 
the other half at Birkenhead, these firms being practically 
the only manufacturers of that description at the time. 
This subdivision of labour (by giving half the contract to 
Messrs. Newall) was decided upon in order, in the first 
place, to complete the work within the appointed time ; and 


secondly, with a view to checking threatened opposition. 
This was a somewhat prejudicial arrangement, as it precluded 
any testing or trial of the entire length until the ships 
met at Queenstown ; but Mr. Field and some of his associates 
were anxious to hurry on. Their sole aim was to get the 
immense length of cable made and laid the following summer 
a few months only after it was actually ordered. 

The construction of the line was commenced with all 
despatch at the three factories. 

When once the wheels had been fairly set in motion, it 
was necessary for Charles Bright to gather round him a 
competent staff of engineers, ready for the expedition. 
First of all, as his chief assistant, he secured the services 
of Mr. Samuel Canning, who had laid the Gulf of St. 
Lawrence cable for Messrs. Glass & EUiot, in the preceding 
year. The next place was filled by Mr. William Henry 
Woodhouse, who had laid cables for Mr. Brett in the Mediter- 
ranean. Then came Mr. F. C. Webb, who had probably 
been associated in one capacity or another with more 
early cable work than any other single telegraph engineer. 
Finally, Mr. Henry Clifford joined. He was a cousin of 
the Taylors, and was in this way introduced to the under- 
taking, besides being a mechanical engineer of considerable 

A few extracts from Charles Bright's diary may here be 
of interest, as showing the arduous and constant vigilance 
necessary in superintending the manufacture : 

January ist, 1857. At Greenwich (Glass & Elliot's), saw 
sample cable 60 ft. long spun off. Considered about keeping 
the wire in tank either always covered with water or always 


dry. Appointment with Edgington's re tarpaulin for covering 
coils. Talked with Canning as to undertaking part of charge of 
paying-out machinery. Appointment for test cable. 

Saturday, yd. To Brown & Lenox's, at Millwall, at one 
to test cable with Glass. Two samples broke off at the clamp, 
not fair trial ; fresh appointment for Tuesday. 

Tuesday, 6th. -To Brown & Lenox's to test cable ; stood up 
to 3 tons ii cwt. Then to Greenwich, testing joints. 

Monday, igth. To Gutta-Percha Works in morning, then to 
Greenwich. Spinning started with one machine. Discussion 
as to tacpaulin covering. Edgington's want 350 for six months' 
rent of tarpaulins. 

Friday, 2yd. Tar-pitch mixture (cold) answers very well for 
coating (with a brush) outside of cable, as a preservative against 

January 27 th. 3 barrels tar \ 

| barrel pitch, Preservative mixture 

12 Ib. beeswax, ( decided on. 

6 gallons linseed oil./ 
Twelve or thirteen gallons per mile. 

All the contractors concerned in this work were ready 
with their supply within the time stipulated. 

Among the illustrious visitors at Greenwich during the 
construction were the Prince of Wales (now His Majesty 
the King) and Prince Alfred (afterwards Duke of Edinburgh). 
Both evinced a lively interest in the work, and carefully 
studied each stage of the manufacture, young Bright having 
the honour of acting as " showman." 


Ships, Stowage, and Departure for Valentia 

Charles Bright was but twenty-four years old at the 
time when he was appointed Chief Engineer to carry out 
this important and far-reaching enterprise enabling the 
people of two great Continents to speak together, in a few 
moments of time, though separated by a vast ocean. 

The work involved was enormous, and few engineers 
have, at his age, been placed in a position of such heavy 

(From the Illustrated London News at this period) 

Improved paying-out machinery to suit the great depths 
required to be devised. He had to select ships suitable 
to carry two thousand five hundred miles of cable, and to 
prepare them to receive it, together with the requisite 
machinery, so arranging the distribution of weight as to 
keep them fairly in trim. In addition there was the neces- 
sity for more or less constant attendance on the directors 



meeting as they did almost daily and the preparation 

of frequent reports. 

It was just about this time the end of 1856 that the 
scene of young Bright's home was changed from South- 
port, near Liverpool, to The Cedars, near Harrow. 

Soon after becoming engineer to the undertaking, in 
conjunction with the authorities of the Admiralty, he had 


visited and inspected various ships. Eventually H.M.S. 
Agamemnon was selected and placed by Government at 
the service of the Company. She proved to be splendidly 
adapted, by her very peculiar construction, for the service 
of receiving the cable. In this capacious receptacle nearly 
half the cable was stowed away. She was a screw-pro- 
pelled line-of-battle ship of ninety-one guns, and one of the 
finest in our navy. She was to do more during her coming 
mission to bring about the reign of peace by drawing 


together in closer communion the several nations of the 
earth than any man-of-war was ever called to do, before 
or after. The American Government, after five months' 
hesitation, sent over the largest and finest ships of their 
navy, the U.S. frigate Niagara, a screw-corvette, which, 
with her tonnage of 5,200, exceeded in size our largest line- 
of-battle ship. Unfortunately, the Niagara had to ex- 
perience much cutting about to enable her to accommo- 
date the required length of cable. As a consort, the U.S. 
paddle frigate Susquehanna was also detailed for the expe- 
dition. H.M.S. Leopard was similarly provided by our 
Government, whilst H.M. sounding vessel Cyclops was to 
precede this little fleet, to show the way. 

During the short time left, Charles Bright devised ap- 
paratus for paying out the cable on a somewhat different 
principle from that which had hitherto been in use for laying 
cables in comparatively shallow water. This was ren- 
dered necessary on account of the fresh conditions. More- 
over, the apparatus previously in vogue was of a rather 
primitive kind, consisting of a drum, round which the cable 
was coiled several times, with a brake strap surrounding 
it, regulated by a hand lever upon a more or less " rule of 
thumb " system. This arrangement had repeatedly broken 
down, notably in 1854 in the Mediterranean, when the 
cable slipped upon the surface of the brake-drum used 
to check it, and flew out of the vessel with great force, 
cutting its way through the bulwarks of the ship in its 
passage. The same trouble of the cable surging and 
" taking charge " with the above rough and ready appli- 



ances, also occurred between Sardinia and Algeria in the 

following year. 

Bright's machinery for regulating the egress of the cable 
from the laying vessels was constructed with a view to (i) 
the great depth of water to be passed over, (2) the constant 
strain, and (3) the number of days during which the opera- 
tion must unceasingly be in progress. There were also 
arrangements by means of which picking up could be 
effected from the bows, and the cable taken aft to the 
" winding-in " machine. 

In connection with this undertaking Charles Bright 
further invented a patent log, a wheel of which was " ar- 
ranged to make and break an electric circuit at every 
revolution." A gutta-percha-covered wire was run up 
from the revolving wheel on to the deck of the ship, so that 
it should carry the current whenever the circuit was com- 
pleted, and record there (upon a piece of apparatus pro- 
vided for the purpose) the speed of the vessel. 

It had previously been intended to start laying the cable 
by both ships simultaneously from mid-ocean, and Charles 
Bright, backed by his immediate staff as well as by all 
the nautical authorities concerned strongly urged this 
course. The electrician, Mr. E. O. Wildman Whitehouse, 
however whose health did not permit him to sail with the 
expedition together with the other electricians, urged 
that one ship commencing to pay out from Ireland, the 
other should continue the work when the first had used 
up all her cable. This course necessarily doubled the time 
taken in laying, and left the junction between the two cable 
ends to be effected in the deepest water, when it might 



be impracticable through rough weather. Yet such was 
the anxiety of the Board to keep in touch with the expe- 
dition, for daily reports of progress, that they followed the 
counsel of the electricians. 1 

By the third week in July (within the course of as many 
weeks) the great ships had received all their precious cargo 
the Agamemnon in the Thames, and the Niagara in the 

Then came some farewell feastings. It seemed to be 
considered a suitable occasion for giving a banquet in honour 
of Bright and others about to take part in the laying of the 

A few days later, the last coil of cable having been 
shipped on the Agamemnon from the Greenwich Works, 
the occasion was duly honoured by a scene as unique as it 
was beautiful. 

To quote The Times of July 24th : 

All the details connected with the manufacture and stowage 
of the cable are now completed, and the conclusion of the arduous 
labour was celebrated yesterday with high festivity and rejoicing. 
All the artisans who have been engaged on the great work, with 
their wives and families, a large party of the officers, with the 
sailors from the Agamemnon, and a number of distinguished 
scientific visitors, were entertained upon this occasion at a kind 
of fete champetre at Belvedere House, the seat of Sir Culling 
Eardley, near Erith. Although in no way personally interested 
in the project, the honourable baronet has all along evinced the 
liveliest sympathy with the undertaking. The tradespeople, 

1 Charles Bright's plan was, however, adopted in the expedition 
of the following year. 


fired with generous emulation, erected spacious tents on the lawn 
and provided a magnificent banquet for the guests, and a sub- 
stantial one for the sailors of the Agamemnon and the artificers 
who had been employed in the construction of the cable. By 
an admirable arrangement, the guests were accommodated at a 
vast semicircular table which ran round the whole pavilion, 
while the sailors and workmen sat at right angles with the chord, 
so that the general effect was that all lunched together, while at 
the same time sufficient distinction was preserved to satisfy the 
most fastidious. The three centre tables were occupied by the 
crew of the Agamemnon, a fine active body of men, who paid 
the greatest attention to the speeches, and drank all the toasts 
with remarkable punctuality at least, so long as their three 
pints of beer per man lasted. But we regret to add that with 
the heat of the day and the enthusiasm of Jack in the cause of 
science, the mugs were all empty long before the chairman's 
list of toasts had been gone through. Next in interest to the 
sailors were the workmen and their wives and babies, all being 
permitted to assist. The latter, it is true, sometimes squalled 
at an affecting peroration, but that rather improved the effect 
than otherwise ; and the presence of their little ones only marked 
the genuine good feeling of the employers, who had thus invited 
not only their workmen but their workmen's families to the feast. 
It was a momentary return to the old patriarchal times, and every 
one present seemed delighted with the experiment. 

These festivities having come to an end, the Agamemnon 
set out for Sheerness to adjust compasses. The Observer 
in a report stated : 

When leaving her moorings, opposite Glass & Elliot's Works, 
the scene was one of considerable interest. Many thousands of 
persons thronged the river side as far as Greenwich Hospital. 
In the immediate neighbourhood of the factory a salute was 
fired as the proud vessel moved away, and a deafening cheer 


was raised by the assembled crowds. The crew of H.M.S. 
Agamemnon manned the gunwales, and returned the cheer with 
lusty lungs, while from the stern gallery ladies waved their 
handkerchiefs, and savants forgot for awhile the mysteries of 
electricity and submarine cable work, as they returned the 
hearty cheers which reached them from the shore. 

The Agamemnon was taken in tow by three steam-tugs, one 
on each side, and a third in front. The tall masts of the giant 
ship were watched with anxious eagerness till they were lost in 
the far distance, and her huge hull disappeared amid the numer- 
ous bends and windings of the river. 

The two ships met at Queenstown, Cork, on July 30th. 
Charles Bright at once ran a piece of cable between the 
ships, which were moored about three-quarters of a mile 
apart, so as to enable the entire length of 2,500 miles to 
be tested and worked through. The experiments were 
continued by Mr. Whitehouse for two days, the whole cable 
proving to be perfect. 

What by that time had become known as the " Wire 
Squadron," sailed from this rendezvous for Valentia Bay 
on Monday, August 3rd. 

After its full strength had been collected at Queenstown, 
the fleet was composed as follows : 

The U.S. screw-steamer Niagara to lay the half of the 
cable from Valentia Bay, Ireland. 

The U.S. paddle-steamer Susquehanna to attend as 
consort to the Niagara. 

H.M. screw-steamer Agamemnon, to lay the half of the 
cable on the American side. 

H.M. paddle-steamer Leopard to attend upon the Agamem- 


H.M. screw-steamer Cyclops to go ahead of the steamers 
and keep the course. 

H.M. tender Advice, and the steam-tug Willing Mind, 
to assist in landing the cable at Valentia. 

Then in Trinity Bay, Newfoundland, the U.S. screw- 
steamer Arctic and the paddle-steamer Victoria (chartered 
by the " Newfoundland " Telegraph Company) were to 
await the arrival of the fleet, and assist in landing the cable. 

Advantage was taken of the passage from Cork to experi- 
ment with the paying-out machinery, which was found to 
be perfectly satisfactory. 

The " Wire Squadron " at Valentia 

On arrival at Valentia Harbour, on August 4th, the ships 
were most hospitably welcomed by the Knight of Kerry, 
Sir Peter Fitzgerald, who had from the commencement 
taken a keen interest in the project. Then, His Excel- 
lency the Earl of Carlisle, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland 
with his suite and many friends to the cable had journeyed 
from Dublin Castle by special train, and the little corner 
of Ireland was quite en fete in this " the next parish to 

During that afternoon the Agamemnon and Niagara, 
with their consorts, hove in sight. The following morning 
Charles Bright and his assistants were occupied in complet- 
ing the arrangements for landing the massive shore end, 
which was calculated to withstand damage from any 
anchorage in the bay. The landing-place which had been 
finally selected was a little cove known as Ballycarberry, 


about three miles from Caherciveen, in Valentia Harbour. 
The two small assistant steamers Willing Mind, a tug 
with a zeal worthy of her name, and Advice, ready not 
merely with advice but most lusty help with several other 
launches and boats, were employed on this operation, which 
commenced at about two o'clock on the afternoon of August 
5th, and was thus described in one of several newspaper 
reports : 

Valentia Bay was studded with innumerable small craft 
decked with the gayest bunting. Small boats flitted hither and 
thither, their occupants cheering enthusiastically as the work 
successfully progressed. The cable boats were managed by the 
sailors of the Niagara and the Susquehanna. It was a well- 
designed compliment, and indicative of the future fraternisation 
of the nations, that the shore rope was arranged to be presented 
at this side of the Atlantic to the representative of the Queen by 
the officers and men of the United States Navy ; and that at 
the other side the British officers and sailors should make a 
similar presentation to the President of the great Republic. 

From the mainland the operations were watched with intense 
interest. For several hours the Lord Lieutenant stood on the 
beach surrounded by his staff and the directors of the railway 
and telegraph companies, waiting the arrival of the cable. When 
at length the American sailors jumped through the surge with 
the hawser to which it was attached, his Excellency was among 
the first to lay hold of it and pull it lustily to the shore. Indeed, 
every one present seemed desirous of having a hand in the great 
work. Never before, perhaps, were there so many willing assist- 
ants at the long pull, the strong pull, and the pull all together. 

At half-past seven o'clock the cable was hauled on shore at 
Ballycarberry Strand, and formal presentation was made of it 
to the Lord Lieutenant, his Excellency expressing a hope that 
the work so well begun would be carried to a satisfactory com- 


After the vicar of the parish had offered a prayer for 
the success of the undertaking, the Lord Lieutenant closed 
the proceedings with some inspiriting remarks. The work 
connected with the landing of the shore end was not actually 
completed till sunset ; so, as it was too late to proceed on 
their journey, the ships remained at anchor in the bay till 

That night there was a grand ball at the little village 
of Knightstown, and the day dawn caught the merry- 


makers still engaged in their festivities. In writing to his 
wife, young Bright described the scene as viewed from 
the Agamemnon, in the following words : 

A bonfire of peat, piled up as high as a good-sized two-story 
house, sent its ruddy and cheerful light far out into the darkness, 
brightening up the black crevices in the frowning rocks, and 
throwing a glow on the faces of the light-hearted peasantry that 
gathered around in a huge circle. 


Laying the First Ocean Cable 

Charles Bright, with his chief assistants, Messrs. Canning, 
Woodhouse and Clifford, had taken up quarters on board 
the Niagara, besides Bright 's brother-in-law, Mr. Robert 
John Taylor, who accompanied the expedition as a visitor. 
Here were also Mr. Field and Professor Morse. 1 

Mr. Webb was quartered on the Agamemnon, together 
with Professor Thomson and Mr. H. A. Moriarty 2 as Navi- 
gating Master. The latter had been specially detailed by 
the Admiralty on account of his skill in that class of work. 
Mr. C. V. de Sauty, a gentleman of considerable practical 
experience, was placed in charge of the electrical arrange- 
ments on board the Niagara, subservient, however, to the 
orders of Mr. Whitehouse from shore. Mr. J. C. Laws was 
also there. Mr. Whitehouse was not able to go out on the 
expedition for reasons of health. 

The ships got under way at an early hour on the morn- 
ing following the landing of the shore end. Paying out 
was commenced from the forepart of the Niagara ; and as 
the distance from that to the stern was considerable, a 
number of men were stationed at intervals, like sentinels, 
to see that every foot of the line safely reached its destina- 

1 The latter who besides being electrician to the New Yorl 
and Newfoundland Telegraph Company, held also an honorary 
watching brief on behalf of the United States Government had 
unfortunately, to retire to his berth as soon as the elements began 
to assert themselves, and remained there more or less continuously 
throughout the expedition. 

2 Afterwards Staff-Commander Moriarty, C.B. 



tion. The machinery did not seem at first to take kindly 
to its work, giving vent to many ominous groans. After 
five miles had been disgorged in safety, the bulky line 
caught in some of the apparatus and parted. The good 
ship at once put back ; and the cable was under-run by 
the Willing Mind the whole distance from the shore a 
tedious and hard task, as may be imagined. At length the 
end was lifted out of the water and spliced to the gigantic 
coil on board ; and as it dropped safely to the bottom of 
the sea, the mighty ship steamed ahead once more. At first 
she moved very slowly not more than two miles an hour 
to avoid the danger of another accident ; but the feeling 
that they were at last away was in itself a relief. The 
ships were all in sight, and so near that they could hear each 
other's bells. The Niagara, as if knowing she was bound 
for the land out of whose forests she came, bowed her head 
proudly to the waves,. 

In the words of Mr. Henry Field : 

Slowly passed the hours of that day. But all went well, and 
the ships were moving out into the broad Atlantic. At length 
the sun went down in the west, and stars came out on the face 
of the deep. But no man slept. A thousand eyes were watch- 
ing a great experiment, including those who had a personal 
interest in the issue. 

All through that night, and through the anxious days and nights 
that followed, there was a feeling in the heart of every soul on 
board, as if some dear friend were at the turning point of death, 
and they were watching beside him. There was a strange 
unnatural silence in the ship. Men paced the deck with soft 
and muffled tread, speaking only in whispers, as if a loud or heavy 
footfall might snap the vital cord. So much had they grown to 
feel for the enterprise, that the cable seemed to them like a human 


creature, on whose fate they themselves hung, as if it were to 
decide their own destiny. 

There are some who will never forget that first night at sea. 
Perhaps the reaction from the excitement on shore made the 
impression the deeper. There are moments in life when every- 
thing comes back to us. What memories cropped up in those 
long night hours ! How many on board that ship, as they stood 
on the deck and watched that mysterious cord disappearing in 
the darkness, thought of homes beyond the sea, of absent ones, of 
the distant and of the dead ! But no musings turn them from 
the work in hand. There are vigilant eyes on deck Mr. Bright, 
the engineer-in-chief, is there ; also, in turn, Mr. Woodhouse and 
Mr. Canning, his chief assistants. . . . The paying-out machinery 
does its work, and though it makes a constant rumble in the 
ship, that dull heavy sound is music in their ears, as it tells them 
that all is well. If one should drop to sleep, and wake up at 
night, he has only to hear the sound of " the old coffee-mill " 
and his fears are relieved, and he goes to sleep again. 

The second day at sea was a day of beautiful weather. 
The ships were getting further away from land, and began 
to steam ahead at the rate of four and five knots. The 
cable was paid out at a speed a little faster than the ship, 
to allow for inequalities of surface on the bottom of the 
sea. While it was thus going overboard, communica- 
tion was kept up constantly with the land. 

To quote Mr. Henry Field again : 

Every moment the current was passing between ship and 
shore. The communication was as perfect as between Liverpool 
and London, or Boston and New York. Not only did the elec- 
tricians telegraph back to Valentia the progress they were mak- 
ing, but the officers on board sent messages to their friends in 
America to go out by the steamers from Liverpool. The heavens 
seemed to smile on them that day. The coils came up from 


below the deck without a kink, and unwinding themselves 
easily, passed over the stern into the sea. 

All Sunday the same favouring fortune continued ; and when 
the officers who could be spared from the deck met in the cabin, 
and Captain Hudson read the service, it was with subdued voices 
and grateful hearts that they responded to the prayers to " Him 
Who spreadeth out the heavens and ruleth the raging of the sea." 

On Monday they were over two hundred miles at sea. They 
had got far beyond the shallow waters off the coast. They had 
passed over the submarine mountain that figures on the charts 
of Dayman and Berryman, and where Mr. Bright 's log gives a 
descent from five hundred and fifty to seventeen hundred and 
fifty fathoms within eight miles. Then they came to the deeper 
waters of the Atlantic, where the cable sank to the awful depth 
of two thousand fathoms ! Still the iron cord buried itself in 
the waves, and every instant the flash of light in the darkened 
telegraph room told of the passage of the electric current. 

Everything went well till 3.45 p.m. on the fourth day out, the 
nth August, when the cable snapped after 380 miles had been 
laid, owing to mismanagement on the part of the mechanic at 
the brakes. 

Thus, the familiar thin Hne which had been streaming 
out from the Niagara for six days was no longer to be seen 
by the accompanying vessels. 

One who was present wrote : 

The unbidden tear started to many a manly eye. The interest 
taken in the enterprise by officers and men alike exceeded any- 
thing ever seen, and there is no wonder that there should have 
been so much emotion on the occasion of the accident. 

In the course of a Report to the Directors of the Company, 
Charles Bright gave the full details of the expedition up to 
the time of this regrettable occurrence. The following 
is taken from the Report, and deals with the accident and 


with the conclusions he had arrived at for resuming the 
undertaking : 

I had, up to this, attended personally to the regulation of the 
brakes ; but finding that all was going well, and it being 
necessary that I should be temporarily away from the machine 
to ascertain the rate of the ship, to see how the cable was com- 
ing out of the hold, and also to visit the electricians' room the 
machine was for the moment left in charge of a mechanic who 
had been engaged from the first in its construction and fitting, 
and was intimately acquainted with its operation. 

In proceeding towards the fore part of the ship I heard the 
machine stop ; I immediately called out to relieve the brakes, 
but when I reached the spot, the cable was broken. On examin- 
ing the machine, which was otherwise in perfect order, I found 
that the brakes had not been released ; and to this or to the 
hand wheel of the brake being turned the wrong way may be 
attributed the stoppage, and consequent fracture, of the cable. 
When the rate of the wheels grew slower, as the ship dropped her 
stern in the swell, the brake should have been eased. This 
had been done regularly whenever an unusually sudden descent 
of the ship temporarily withdrew the pressure from the cable in 
the sea. But owing to our entering the deep water the previous 
morning, and having all hands ready for any emergency that 
might occur there, the chief part of my staff had been compelled 
to give in at night through sheer exhaustion ; and hence, being 
short-handed, I was obliged for the time to leave the machine 
without, as it proved, sufficient intelligence to control it. 

I perceive that on the next occasion it will be needful, owing 
to the wearing and anxious nature of the work to have three 
separate relays of staff ; and to employ, for attention to the 
brakes a higher degree of mechanical skill. 

The origin of the accident was, no doubt, the amount of 
retarding strain put upon the cable ; but had the machine been 
properly manipulated at the time, it could not possibly have 
taken place. 


For three days, in shallow and deep water, as well as in rapid 
transition from one to the other, nothing could be more perfect 
than the working of the cable machinery. It had been made 
extra heavy with a view to recovery work. However, it per- 
formed its duty so smoothly and efficiently in the smaller depths 
where the weight of the cable had less ability to overcome its 
friction and resistance that it can scarcely be said to be too heavy 
for paying out in deep water, where it was necessary, from the 
increased weight of cable, to restrain its rapid motion, by apply- 
ing to it a considerable degree of additional friction. Its action 
was most complete, and all parts worked well together. 

I see how the gear can be improved, by a modification in the 
form of sheaves, by an addition to the arrangement for adjusting 
the brakes, and some other alterations ; but with proper manage- 
ment, without any change whatever, I am confident that the 
whole length of cable might have been safely laid by the ex- 
isting gear. And it must be remembered as a test of the work 
which it has done that, unfortunate as this termination to the 
expedition is, the longest length of cable ever laid has been 
paid out by it, and that in the deepest water yet passed over. 

After the accident had occurred, soundings were taken by 
Lieutenant Dayman from the Cyclops, and the depth found to be 
2,000 fathoms. 

It will be remembered that some importance was attached to 
the cable on board the Niagara and Agamemnon being manufac- 
tured in opposite lays. I thought this a favourable opportunity 
to show that practically the difference was not of consequence in 
effecting the junction in mid-ocean. We therefore made a splice 
between the two vessels. This was then lowered in a heavy sea, 
after which several miles were paid out without difficulty. 

I requested the commanders of the several vessels to proceed 
to Plymouth, as the docks there afford better facilities than any 
other port for landing the cable, should it be necessary to do so. 

The whole of the cable remaining on board has been carefully 
tested and inspected, and found to be in as perfect condition as 
when it left the works at Greenwich and Birkenhead respectively. 


One important point presses for your consideration at an early 
period. A large portion of cable, already laid, may be recovered 
at a comparatively small expense. I append an estimate of the 
cost, and shall be glad to receive your authority to proceed with 
this work. 

I do not perceive in our present position any reason for dis- 
couragement ; but I have, on the contrary, a greater confidence 
than ever in the undertaking. It has been proved beyond a 
doubt that no obstacle exists to prevent our ultimate success, 
and I see clearly how every difficulty which has presented itself 
in this voyage can be effectually dealt with in the next. 

The cable has been laid at the expected rate in the great depths ; 
its electric working through the entire length has been satis- 
factorily accomplished ; while the portion laid, actually improved 
in efficiency by being submerged from the low temperature of 
the water and the increased close texture of gutta-percha there- 
by effected. 

Mechanically speaking, the structure of the cable has answered 
every expectation that I had formed of it. Its weight in water 
is so adjusted to the depth, that strain is within a manageable 
scope ; while the effects of the undercurrents upon its surface 
prove how dangerous it would be to lay a much lighter rope, 
which would, by the greater time occupied in sinking, expose an 
increased surface to their power besides its descent being at 
an angle such as would not provide for good laying at the bottom. 
On the other hand, in regard to any further length made, I would 
take the opportunity of again strongly urging the desirability of 
a much larger conductor and corresponding increase in the 
weight of insulation, in accordance with my original recom- 

The Report here quoted from was afterwards sent by the 
Secretary of the Company to The Times for publication. 


Preparations for another Attempt 

This untoward accident was naturally a cause of great 
sorrow to all connected with the undertaking. There 
was not enough cable left to complete the work, nor was 
there time to get more made and stowed on board to renew 
the attempt before the season would be too far advanced. 
Yet much experience had been gained, and there were many 
points of encouragement in Charles Bright 's report. Those 
immediately concerned in the great enterprise were, des- 
pite their heavy disappointment, in the end undaunted. 

The squadron proceeded to Plymouth to unload the cable 
into tanks at Keyham Dockyard, chiefly because some of 
the ships could not be spared by their respective Govern- 
ments till the following year. The insulation was carefully 
tested by Professor Thomson and Mr. Whitehouse, who 
found that the copper wire had forced its way through 
the gutta-percha at several points probably owing to 
the repeated coiling and uncoiling the manufacture of 
gutta-percha at the proper temperature not being then 
understood as it is now. These defects were duly repaired. 
On being discharged from the ships, the cable was passed 
through a composition of tar, pitch, linseed-oil, and bees- 
wax, as a precaution against oxidation ; and was coiled 
in compact circles in four large roofed tanks specially con- 
structed for the purpose, with a view to storing the cable 
ashore until the following summer, when the undertaking 
was to be resumed at least so many hoped. 


In the middle of October, Bright proceeded to Valentia, 
accompanied by Mr. Clifford, in'a small paddle-steamer, with 
the object of picking up some of the cable near here. After 
experiencing a series of gales, over fifty miles of the main 
cable were recovered, and the shore end buoyed ready for 
splicing on to in the coming year. Whilst engaged in the 
above work the subject of our biography penned the fol- 


lowing to his wife, which serves to describe the operation 
and the apparatus employed : 


October 24th, 1857. 

I send you a gift from Henry Clifford, a view from our win- 
dow at the inn here. The steamer to the right is the Leipzig. 
The pier is the breakwater of Valentia Harbour. The queer- 
looking thing to the left is an apparatus I have fitted up for 
under-running the cable. It is composed of two very large long 
iron buoys fixed together like a twin ship with a platform of 


timber over it. On this, at each end, is a saddle with a deep 
groove for the cable to run in. The cable being on the near 
shore, it is towed along. When near the end of the heavy cable 
I shall take it off, cut the cable, buoy the heavy end, and begin 
winding up the small one as we go on. 

This first expedition had opened the eyes of the investing 
public to the vastness of the undertaking, and led many to 
doubt who did not doubt before. Some even began to 
look upon it as a romantic adventure of the sea, rather 
than as a serious commercial undertaking. As Henry 
Field reminds us : " This decline of popular faith was felt 
as soon as there was a call for more money." 

The loss of 335 miles of cable, with the postponement 
of the expedition to another year, was equivalent to a loss 
of 100,000. To make this good, the capital of the com- 
pany had to be increased, and this new capital was not 
readily obtainable. The projectors found that it was easy 
to go with the current of popular enthusiasm, but very hard 
to stem a growing tide of popular distrust. And it must 
also be remembered that, from the very first, that section 
of the public which looked with distrust upon the idea of 
an Atlantic Telegraph was far in excess of that which did 
not ; indeed, the opposition encountered was much on 
a par with the popular prejudice which George Stephenson 
had to overcome when projecting his great Railway schemes. 

But whatever the depression at the untimely termination 
of the first expedition, it did not interfere with renewed and 
vigorous efforts to prepare for a second. In the end, the 
appeal to the shareholders for more money was responded 
to ; and the directors were enabled to give orders for the 


manufacture of 700 miles of new cable of the same descrip- 
tion, to make up for what had been lost, and to provide a 
surplus against all contingencies. Thus, 3,000 nautical 
miles in all were eventually shipped this time, instead of 
2,500 miles. 

A committee was arranged to confer with Charles Bright 
as to the machinery. This committee consisted of Mr. 


Thomas Lloyd, the chief of the Steam Department of Her 
Majesty's Navy ; Mr. John Penn, of Greenwich ; and Mr. 
Joshua Field, F.R.S., of Maudslay, Son & Field. Mr. 
W. E. Everett, U.S.N., was also consulted later. As the 
chief (ship's) engineer of the Niagara, on the late expedition, 
Mr. Everett had acquired a good deal of information from 
seeing the working of the apparatus on board. He also 
joined in approving Charles Bright 's suggested alterations. 


This gentleman had to return to America with his ship ; but on 
again arriving in London, on January i8th of the following 
year, he had the satisfaction of attesting to the sterling 
qualities of the machine devised, adopted, and constructed 
in his absence, as well as in partly superintending the setting 
up of it aboard the ships. The above committee reported : 
' We consider the paying-out sheaves require no alterations 
except those suggested by Mr. Bright in a memorandum 
he was good enough to place in our hands." 

Quite independently Charles Bright had decided that the 
checking gear, or brake, should not be left in the power of 
any person in charge to j amb the machine ; and subsequently 


a very opportune invention of Mr. J. G. Appold, F.R.S., 
was considered in this connection. It consisted of a brake 
so arranged that a lever exercised a uniform holding power 
in exact proportion to the weights attached to it ; and while 
capable of being released by a hand-wheel, it could not be 
tightened. This clever appliance had been introduced in 
association with the crank apparatus in gaols, so as to 
regulate the amount of labour in proportion to the strength 
of the prisoner. The above invention was especially 
adapted to the exigencies of cable work by Mr. C. E. Amos, 


M.Inst.C.E., and Charles Bright. The great feature 
about it was that it provided for automatic release of the 
brake, upon the strain exceeding that intended. Thus 
only a maximum agreed strain could be applied, this being 
regulated from time to time by weights, according to depth 
of water and consequent weight of cable being paid out. 
In passing from the hold to the stern of the laying vessel, 
the cable is taken round a drum. 1 Attached to the axle of 
the drum 2 is a wheel fitted with an iron friction-strap (to 
which are fixed blocks of hard wood), capable of exerting 
a given retarding power, varying with the weights hung 
on to the lever N which tightens the strap. When the fric- 
tion becomes great, the wheels have an increased tendency 
to carry the wooden blocks round with them : thus the 
lever bars are deflected from the vertical line and the iron 
band opened sufficiently to lessen the brake power. Hence, 
this apparatus may be said to be partially self-regulating 
in its action to the extent of avoiding an excess retarding- 

Charles Bright also devised a dynamometer apparatus 
for indicating and controlling the strain during paying out 
which was a great improvement on that embodied in the 
previous machines. 

The working connections of the friction-brake and hand- 
wheel referred to are shown on the previous page. A more 

1 In the actual apparatus for the laying of the 1858 cable, there 
were (see illustration, p. 79) two drums, A and B, each having two 
brake wheels attached to their axles. 

2 This drum is carried round by the weight of the axle as the ship 
moves onwards. 


complete notion of it, however, as well as of the entire 
paying-out gear (with Bright's dynamometer), as ultimately 
adopted for the next expedition, is best obtained from the 
plate on the previous page. 

The working of the entire machine was as follows x : 

Between the two brake drums A and B and the stern of the vessel, 
the cable was bent somewhat out of the straight line by being led 
under the grooved wheel O of the dynamometer. This wheel 
had a weight attached to it, and could be moved up or down in 
an iron frame G. If the strain upon the cable was small, the 
wheel would bend the cable downwards, and its index would show 
a low degree of pressure ; but whenever the strain increased, 
the cable, in straightening itself, would at once lift the dynamo- 
meter wheel with the indicator attached to it, which showed the 
pressure in hundredweights and tons. The amount of strain 
with a given weight upon the wheel was determined by experi- 
ment, and a hand-wheel W in connection with the levers of the 
paying-out machine was placed immediately opposite the 
dynamometer ; so that directly the indicator showed strain 
increasing, the person in charge could at once, by turning the 
hand-wheel, lift up the weights that tightened the friction straps, 
and so let the cable run freely through the paying-out machine. 
Although, therefore, the strain could be reduced or entirely with- 
drawn in a moment, it could not be increased by the man at 
the wheel. 

The dynamometer principle of Charles Bright here introduced 
has been universally adopted in the laying of all subsequent 
submarine cables. 

The construction of this improved apparatus was carried 
out by Messrs. Easton & Amos at their works in Southwark. 
Mr. Henry Clifford, who, as a mechanical engineer, was an 

1 Submarine Telegraphs. 


expert in machinery, also attended closely to the manufac- 
ture of the gear. 

About this time, two able calculating engineers, Mr. T. 
A. Longridge, M.Inst.C.E., and Mr. C. H. Brooks, read a 
paper before the Institution of Civil Engineers with refer- 
ence to this subject, and young Bright led off the discussion. 1 
This paper was of a mathematical and almost entirely 
theoretical order, regarding the resistance to a rope intro- 
duced by skin friction in passing through water. These gentle- 
men also asserted, from their mathematical deductions, 
that : "The result of a stoppage of the paying-out apparatus, 
in a depth of 2,000 fathoms, whilst the vessel was pro- 
ceeding at the rate of six feet per second, would be to bring 
a strain on the cable amounting to over seven tons, while 
its strength was only about half that." It was, however, 
actually in evidence that Charles Bright had stopped paying 
out, during the last expedition, when in very nearly that 
depth, for some length of time, while clearing tar off the 
brake machine. 

The following week the " Civils " engaged once more in 
submarine cable talk. This time an eminently practical 
discourse was furnished by Mr. F. C. Webb 2 ; and here was 
the occasion on which Professor Airy, 3 the then Astronomer 
Royal, expressed himself very decidedly that (ist) " it 
was a mathematical impossibility to submerge the cable 
successfully at so great a depth in safety," and (2nd) that 
" if it were possible, no signals could be transmitted through 

1 Proc. Inst. C.E., vol. xvii. See also Appendix 8 to Vol. I. 
of the original biography. 

2 Proc. Inst. C.E., vol. xvii. 

3 Afterwards Sir George Biddell Airy, K.C.B., F.R.S. 



so great a length." Professor Airy stated in addition that : 
" When a cable was paid out at the angle of 10 (with the 
horizon), there was a strain upon it of nearly sixty-six 
times the minimum tension, or sixty-six times the depth 
of the sea at that place. When this was considered, it 
seemed to him, that in all the annals of engineering there 
was not another instance in which danger was incurred so 
needlessly. . . . The angle at which it should be paid 
out should never be less than 45 with the horizon." He 
also supported his theory by a series of computations. But 
he altogether omitted to take into account the fact that a 
cable ship merely moves quickly, as it were, from under 
the cable it carries ; and that the faster the paying out can 
be carried on, the closer is the angle of the cable to the 
horizon 10 to 15 being very customary. At this meeting 
Charles Bright took the opportunity to correct some of 
the erroneous views that had obtained currency and given 
rise to false conclusions. 

From the very outset of the project, and as soon as he 
was appointed engineer, young Bright had had to deal 
with amateurs in the art ! As the " Jack-in-office " all 
were, ready to pounce upon him : thus he was subjected 
to all manner of suggestions regarding the laying of cables, 
transmitted to him officially through the secretary of the 
Company. 1 These which, with our present lights, do in- 
deed seem ludicrous had to be politely dealt with, not- 
withstanding extreme pressure of work. Some, be it 
added, emanated from men of highly scientific attainments. 

1 The Story of the Atlantic Cable, 


The projected cable, and the formation of such a company, 
appeared, indeed, to stimulate and excite the brains of many 

a sanguine inventor. 

It is both amusing and sad to think of some of the ideas 
put forward. Perhaps the most frequent was in connection 
with the fallacy, that, as the water increased in depth, 
therefore at a given point in deep water, a long way off 
the bottom, the cable would be held in suspense. This was 
a very common delusion at the time. Obviously, the pres- 
sure increases with the depths, on all sides of a cable (or 
anything else), in its descent through the sea; but as, 
practically, everything on earth is more compressible than 
water, it is clear that the iron wire, yarn, gutta-percha, 
and copper conductor forming the cable, must be more 
and more compressed as they descend. Thus the cable 
constantly increases its density, or specific gravity, in going 
down ; while the equal bulk of the water surrounding it 
continues to have, practically speaking, the same specific 
gravity as at the surface. Without this valuable property 
possessed by water, the hydraulic press would not exist ; 
but the strange blunder here described was participated in 
by some of the most distinguished naval men. To obviate 
this non-existent difficulty, it was gravely proposed to 
festoon the cable across, at a given maximum depth, between 
buoys, and floats, or even parachutes at which ships might 
call, hook on, and telegraphically talk to shore ! 

Others, again, proposed to apply gummed cotton to 
the outside of the cable in connection with the above buoying 
system. The idea was that the gum (or glue) would gradu- 
ally dissolve, and so let the cable down " quietly ! " 


One naval officer of eminence urged the employment of 
an immense floating cylinder, on which the cable was to 
be wound. This cylinder was then to be towed across the 
Atlantic, unrolling the cable in its progress. The unwieldi- 
ness of such a cylinder, with some 2,500 miles of cable en- 
circling it, in addition to its own weight, and the practical 
impossibility of regulating delivery in its revolutions or of 
dealing with it even in an ordinary roughish sea did not 
appear to be held of much account by the projector. 

It was also suggested that the proper place to pay out 
was from the centre of the ship, as the point of least motion, 
and therefore least liable to damage the cable ; and it was 
proposed to have an opening in the middle to let it down. 
But as the cable in paying out leaves the ship at an angle 
only a little removed from the horizontal, the absurdity 
of such a suggestion is manifest. 

Again, a trail, or flexible pipe, was strongly advocated, 
" to hang down from the ship's stern to the bottom of the 
sea, through which the cable was to be allowed to pass." 
The promoters of this plan omitted, however, to consider 
the effects of the friction resulting from 2,000 miles of cable 
passing through it. Of whatever substance such a trail 
might be made, a day or two's rubbing of the cable would 
have worn it through. 

Some again absolutely went so far as to take out patents 
for converting the laying vessel into a huge factory, " with a 
view to making the cable on board in one continuous length, 
and submerging it during the process." 

Another party (a retired naval officer) gravely asserted 
that no soundings could have been obtained across the 


Atlantic, as " both modern science and actual experiment 
demonstrate that, long before any such depths could 
be reached, the lead must necessarily have displaced its 
own specific gravity in so dense a medium as water, and 
consequently at once then stop, remaining suspended, 

Let us now return to the active and practical preparations 
for the forthcoming expedition. It is difficult for the 
uninitiated to realise what these meant. They would have 
driven many crazy, if only on account of their vast and 
varied character. In this connection, Charles Bright notes 
in his diary : 

It was only by dint of bribing, bullying, cajoling, and going 
day by day to see the state of things ordered, that anything is 
ready in time for starting. 

He then says : 

At first one goes nearly mad with vexation at the delays ; 
but soon one finds that they are the rule, and then it becomes 
necessary to feign a rage one does not feel. 

Further : 

I look upon it as the natural course of things that if I give a 
order it will not be carried out ; or, if by accident it is carried 
out, it will be carried out wrongly. The only remedy is to watch 
the performance at every stage. 

All this incessant toil seems to have additionally inspired 

the following note : 

When idle, one can love, one can be good, feel kindly to all, 
devote oneself to others, be thankful for existence, educate one's 
mind, one's heart, one's body. 1 When busy, one sometimes seems 
too busy to indulge in any of these pleasures. 

1 The truth of this need not necessarily conflict with the fact that, 
in most instances, the permanently idle find no time for any of the 
above virtues. 


As soon as one of the machines for paying out the cable 
was completed and set up in working order, all Bright's 
staff inspected the, working of the machine ; whilst at the 
same time receiving instructions, as above, for the coming 
expedition. There then followed the trial mentioned, during 
which a complete rehearsal was gone through of the various 
operations to be performed with the apparatus. 

Bright's arrangement for stowing the cable aboard formed 
a subject for discussion at the hands of some of the naval 
officers concerned with the undertaking. Our young 
engineer had determined this time that the large coil in 
the hold of the Agamemnon must be made as truly circular 
and also as large as he had insisted on for the Niagara 
in the previous year. He also decided that a cone in the 
middle of each coil, and a large margin of space to the 
hatchway-eye above, were both essential provisions for safe 
paying out. These alterations were all duly made, although 
one of the naval experts had expressed himself that the 
cable " should be stowed in long Flemish flakes/' The same 
officer also considered that " no other machinery for paying 
out was necessary or desirable than a handspike to stop 
the egress of the cable "(!) Charles Bright, whilst always 
ready to listen to suggestions, had sometimes to remind 
his critics, in effect, that " criticism is always easier than 

Whilst the cable was stored in the tanks at Keyham 
Dockyard, Mr. Whitehouse partly in conjunction with 
Professor Thomson took the opportunity of conducting a 
fresh series of experiments through the entire length, with 
various apparatus and under various conditions. These 


experiments were more especially in the direction of testing, 
and improving on, the rate of working. As a result, a 
speed of four words per minute was attained through the 
2,000 odd miles. 

Since the manufacture of the cable in 1857, Professor 
Thomson had become impressed with the conviction that 
the electric conductivity of copper varied greatly with its 
degree of purity. Resulting from the professor's further 
investigations, the extra length of cable made for the coming 
expedition was subjected to systematic and searching tests 
for the purity and conductivity of the copper. Every hank 
of wire was tested ; and all whose conducting power fell 
below a certain value rejected. Here, then, we have the first 
instance of an organised system of testing for conductivity 
at the cable factory a system which has ever since been 
rigorously insisted on. 

And now, in the spring of 1858, an invention was perfected 
that was destined to have a remarkable effect on sub- 
marine cable enterprise. For within about a year of his 
entering the ranks of telegraphic scientists, Professor Thom- 
son (afterwards Lord Kelvin) devised and perfected the 
mirror-speaking instrument, then often described as the 
marine galvanometer, that entirely revolutionised long 
distance signalling and electrical testing aboard ship. It 
is only to be regretted that the electrician responsible for 
the subsequent working-through operations did not sooner 
appreciate the great beauties of this apparatus, and the 
advantage of a small generating force such as it only 

The Board decided " that it would be desirable to begin 


paying out the cable in mid-ocean." Thus, they reversed 
the starting from shore of the previous expedition. The 
latter, it will be remembered, was a concession to the 
electricians, though strongly opposed by Charles Bright 
and the whole of his engineering staff at the time. The 
grounds on which the former plan was preferable were 
(i) the ability to choose the day for joining the ends in good 
weather ; (2) the reduction of the time taken over the 
laying operation by one-half, with thus a better chance of 
fine weather being maintained throughout the expedition ; 
and (3) that the most difficult part of the work, in the 
deepest water, would be dealt with first. 

It was also arranged by Charles Bright that the main 
cable should be buoyed at each end, and the connections 
to it by the heavy cable from shore effected at the earliest 
opportunity afterwards. 

The Trial Trip 

All the 3,000 miles of cable was coiled into the two large 
ships and the improved machinery fitted on board of them 
by the end of May. The Agamemnon was on this occasion 
in naval command of Captain (afterwards Vice-Admiral) 
G. W. Preedy, place of Capt. Noddall, R.N. but 
her navigating master was Mr. H. A. Moriarty, R.N., as 

Thus equipped, the fleet again set forth from Plymouth 


on May 29th, 1858, but this time without any show of public 
enthusiasm. Charles Bright was accompanied by the en- 
gineering and electrical staff already referred to. With him 
on the Agamemnon were Mr. Canning (his chief assistant), and 
Mr. Clifford ; whilst on the Niagara he was jointly repre- 
sented by Mr. Everett and Mr. Woodhouse, the former 
taking charge of the machinery, and the latter with 
a greater experience in such work of the cable. They 
were assisted by Captain John Kell. Mr. Cyrus Field also 
accompanied the Niagara. Mr. Whitehouse being again 
unable to take passage, Professor Thomson agreed to 
supervise the testing-room arrangements in the Agamemnon, 
whilst Mr. de Sauty and Mr. Laws together with Mr. 
John Murray had the electrical force of the Niagara under 
their charge. 

Although the improved paying-out gear had passed through 
most satisfactory experiments at Messrs. Easton & Amos' 
works, it was arranged by Charles Bright to test it practically 
in very deep water besides making splices at sea, picking 
up, buoying and exercising all hands in their work generally 
before commencing to lay in mid-Atlantic. So the cable- 
laden ships, with H.M.S. Valorous and H.M.S. Gorgon as con- 
sorts, first made a trial trip to the Bay of Biscay as far as 
lat. 47i2'N., long. 932'W., about 120 miles north- 
west of Corunna, where the Gorgon got soundings of 2,530 
fathoms, or nearly three statute miles, in depth. The 
Agamemnon and Niagara were then backed close together, 
stern on, and a strong hawser was passed between them. 

Each ship had on board some defective cable for the 


experiment about to be conducted. The further proceed- 
ings may now be observed from a perusal of Bright's diary, 
written aboard the Agamemnon : 

Monday, May ^ist. 10 a.m., hove to, lat. 47n / , long. 937' 
Up to midday engaged in making splice between experimental 
cable in fore coil and that in main hold, besides other minor 
operations. In afternoon, getting hawser from Niagara, and 
her portion of cable to make joint, and splice. 4 p.m., com- 
menced splice ; 5.15, splice completed ; 5.25, let go splice frame 
(weight 3 cwt.) over gangway, amidships, starboard side. 5.30, 
after getting splice frame (containing the splice) clear of the 
ship and lowering it to the bottom, each vessel (then about a 
quarter of a mile apart) commenced paying out in opposite 

9 p.m., got on board Niagara's warp and her end of cable, to 
make another splice for second experiment. 

June ist. i a.m. (night), electrical continuity gone, the cable 
having parted after two miles in all had been paid out. 1 

Since i a.m., engaged in hauling in our cable. Recovered all 
our portion and even managed to heave up the splice frame (in 
perfect condition), besides 100 fathoms of Niagaras cable, which 
she had parted. Fastened splice to stern of vessel and ceased 

9.23 a.m., second experiment. Started paying out again. 
Weather very misty. 

9.40, one mile paid out at strain 16 cwt. ; angle of cable 16 
with the horizon ; running out straight ; rate of ship 2, cable 3. 

9.45, changed to lower hold. 9.56, two miles out ; last mile 
in i6J minutes ; strain 17 to 20 cwt. ; angle of cable 20. 10.10 
last three miles out in 14 minutes. 

1 This did not, of course, come as a surprise ; for the length of 
cable employed for these experiments had long since been condemned 
as imperfect. 


10.32 a.m., four and a half miles out. Third experiment 
stopped ship, lowered guard, stoppered cable. 

10.50, buoy let go, strain 16 cwt. when let go, the cable being 
nearly up and down, n.6, running at rate of 5j knots paying 
out, strain 21 to 23 cwt., varying. Cable shortly afterwards 
parted, through getting jammed in the machinery. 

The subsequent experiments were mainly in the direction of 
buoying, picking up, and passing the cable from the stern to the 
bow sheave for picking up. All of these operations were in turn 
successfully performed ; and, finally, in paying out, a speed of 
seven knots was attained without difficulty. 

And now, the programme being exhausted, there was 
nothing left to be done but to return to Plymouth. On the 
whole, the trip proved eminently satisfactory. The paying- 
out machinery had behaved well, the various engineering 
operations had been successfully performed, and the elec- 
trical working through the whole cable was perfect. Pro- 
fessor Thomson had brought with him that offspring of his 
brain his reflecting and testing instrument and this gave 
excellent results. 

The Storm 

The "wire ships" thus additionally experienced arrived 
at Plymouth on Thursday, June 3rd. The results were duly 
reported by Charles Bright, and some further arrange- 
ments made, principally connected with the electrical 

A week later having taken in a fresh supply of coal 


the expedition again left England " with fair skies and bright 
prospects." The barometer standing at 30*64, it was an 
auspicious start in what was declared by a consensus of 
nautical authorities to be the best time of the year for the 
Atlantic. This prognostication was doomed to a terrible dis- 
appointment, for the voyage nearly ended in the Agamemnon 
" turning turtle." She was repeatedly almost on her beam 
ends, the cable was partly shifted, and a large number of 
those on board were more or less seriously injured. 

Charles Bright, with Messrs. Canning and Clifford, were 
as during the trial trip on the Agamemnon, and also Pro- 
fessor Thomson, who again took charge of the electricians' 
department, Mr. Whitehouse being ashore. Messrs. Everett 
and Woodhouse were once more on the Niagara, with Mr. 
de Sauty superintending the signalling. Mr. Cyrus Field, 
as before, sailed in the American ship. 

In order that laying operations should be started by the 
two ships in mid-ocean, it was arranged that the entire 
fleet should meet in lat. 522', and long. 33i8 / as a ren- 
dezvous. The Porcupine, the smallest ship of the squadron, 
had been sent to St. John's, Nova Scotia, with orders to 
meet the Niagara on her way to Trinity Bay. Besides 
the laying vessels, there were the Valorous and the Gorgon, 
the former acting as an escort to the Agamemnon, and the 
latter doing similar duty for the Niagara. 

As it is impossible to follow the movements of more 
than one ship at a time, and as the vessel which Charles 
Bright sailed with the Agamemnon had the more ex- 
citing experience, we will confine our attention to her up to 
the date of the rendezvous. The day after starting there was 


no wind, but on the Saturday, the i2th, a breeze sprang 
up, and, with screw hoisted and fires raked out, the 
Agamemnon bowled along at a rare pace under royals 
and studding sails. The barometer fell fast, and squally 
weather coming on with the boisterous premonitory 
symptoms of an Atlantic gale, even those least versed in 
such matters could see at a glance that they were " in 
for it." 

On Sunday the sky was a wretched mist half rain, half 
vapour through which the attendant vessels loomed faintly 
like shadows. The gale increased ; till at four in the after- 
noon the good ship was rushing through the foam under 
close-reefed topsails and foresail. That night the storm 
got worse, and most of the squadron gradually parted 
company. The ocean resembled one vast snowdrift, the 
whitish glare from which reflected from the dark clouds 
that almost rested on the sea had a tremendous and un- 
natural effect, as if the ordinary laws of nature had been 

Very heavy weather continued till the following Sunday, 
June 20 th, which ushered in as fierce a storm as ever 
swept over the Atlantic. The narrative of this fight of 
nautical science with the elements may best be continued 
in the words of Mr. Nicholas Woods, who, representing The 
Times, was an eye-witness throughout especially as it is 
probably the most intensely realistic description of a storm 
that has ever been written : 

The Niagara, which had hitherto kept close whilst the other 
smaller vessels had dropped out of sight began to give us a 


very wide berth, and, as darkness increased, it was a case of every 
one for themselves. 

Our ship, the Agamemnon, rolling many degrees, was labouring 
so heavily that she looked like breaking up. The massive beams 
under her upper deck coil cracked and snapped with a noise 
resembling that of small artillery, almost drowning the hideous 
roar of the wind as it moaned and howled through the rigging. 
Those in the improvised cabins on the main deck had little sleep 
that night, for the upper deck planks above them were " working 
themselves free," as sailors say ; and, beyond a doubt, they were 
infinitely more free than easy, for they groaned under the pressure 
of the coil, and availed themselves of the opportunity to let in 
a little light, with a good deal of water, at every roll. The sea, 
too, kept striking with dull heavy violence against the vessel's 
bows, forcing its way through hawse-holes and ill-closed ports 
with a heavy slush ; and thence, hissing and winding aft, it 
roused the occupants of the cabins aforesaid to a knowledge 
that their floors were under water, and that the flotsam and 
jetsam noises they heard beneath were only caused by their 
outfit for the voyage taking a cruise of its own in some five 
or six inches of dirty bilge. Such was Sunday night, and 
such was a fair average of all the nights throughout the week, 
varying only from bad to worse. On Monday things became 

The barometer was lower, and, as a matter of course, the wind 
and sea were infinitely higher than the day before. It was 
singular, but at 12 o'clock the sun pierced through the pall of 
clouds, and shone brilliantly for half an hour, and during that 
brief time it blew as it has not often blown before. So fierce 
was this gust, that its roar drowned every other sound, and it 
was almost impossible to give the watch the necessary orders for 
taking in the close-reefed foresail. This gust passed, and the 
usual gale set in now blowing steadily from the south-west, and 
taking us more and more out of our course each minute. Every 
hour the storm got worse, till towards five in the afternoon 
when it raged with such a violence of wind and sea that matters 


really looked " desperate " even for such a strong and large ship 
as the Agamemnon. The upper deck coil had strained her decks 
throughout ; and, though this mass, in theory, was supposed to 
prevent her rolling so quickly and heavily as she would have 
done without it, yet still she heeled over to such an alarming 
extent that fears of the coil itself shifting again occupied every 
mind, and it was accordingly strengthened with additional 
shores bolted down to the deck. The space occupied by the main 
coil below had deprived the Agamemnon of several of her coal 
bunkers ; and in order to make up for this deficiency, as well as 
to endeavour to counterbalance the immense mass which weighed 
her down by the head, a large quantity of coals had been stowed 
on the deck aft. On each side of her main deck were thirty-five 
tons, secured in a mass, while on the lower deck ninety tons were 
stowed away in the same manner. The precautions taken to 
secure these huge masses also required attention as the great 
ship surged from side to side. Everything, therefore, was made 
"snug," as sailors call it; though their efforts by no means 
resulted in the comfort which might have been expected from the 
term. The night passed over without any mischance beyond 
the smashing of all things incautiously left loose and capable of 
rolling, and one or two attempts which the Agamemnon made 
in the middle watch to turn bottom upwards. In other matters 
it was the mere ditto of Sunday night ; except, perhaps, a little 
worse, and certainly much more wet below. Tuesday, the gale 
continued with unabated force ; though the barometer had risen 
to 2930, and there was sufficient sun to take a clear observation, 
which showed our distance from the rendezvous to be 563 miles. 
During this afternoon the Niagara joined company, and, the 
wind going more ahead, the Agamemnon took to violent pitching, 
plunging steadily into the trough of the sea as if she meant to 
break her back and lay the Atlantic cable in a heap. This change 
in her motion strained and taxed every inch of timber near the 
coils to the very utmost. It was curious to see how they worked 
and bent as the Agamemnon went at everything she met head first. 
One time she pitched so heavily as to break one of the main-beams 


of the lower deck, which had to be shored with screw-jacks 
forthwith. Saturday, June igth, things looked a little better. 
The barometer seemed inclined to go up and the sea to go down ; 
and for the first time that morning since the gale began some 
six days previous the decks could be walked with tolerable 
comfort and security. But, alas ! appearances are as deceitful 
in the Atlantic as elsewhere ; and during a comparative calm 
that afternoon the glass fell lower, while a thin line of black haze 
to windward seemed to grow up until it covered the heavens 
with a sombre darkness, and warned us that the worst was yet 
to come. There was much heavy rain that evening, and then 
the wind began not violently, nor in gusts, but with a steadily 
increasing force. The sea was " ready-built to hand," as sailors 
say ; so at first the storm did little more than urge on the ponder- 
ous masses of water with redoubled force, and fill the air with the 
foam and spray it tore from their rugged crests. By-and-by, 
however, it grew more dangerous, and Captain Preedy himself 
remained on deck throughout the middle watch. 

At 4 a.m., sail was shortened to close-reefed fore and main- 
topsails and reefed foresail. This was a long and tedious job, 
for the wind so roared and howled, and the hiss of the boiling 
sea was so deafening, that words of command were useless ; and 
the men aloft holding on with all their might to the yards as 
the ship rolled over and over almost to the water were quite 
incapable of struggling with the masses of wet canvas, that 
flapped and plunged as if men, yards and everything were going 
away together. The ship was almost as wet inside as out and 
so things wore on till 8 or 9 o'clock, everything getting adrift and 
being smashed, and every one on board jamming themselves 
up in corners or holding on to beams to prevent their going adrift 
likewise. At 10 o'clock the good ship was rolling and labouring 
fearfully, with the sky getting darker, and both wind and sea 
increasing every minute. Half an hour later three or four gigan- 
tic waves were seen approaching the ship, coming slowly on 
through the mist, nearer and nearer, rolling on like hills of green 
water, with a crown of foam that seemed to double their height. 



The Agamemnon rose heavily to the first, and then went down 
quickly into the deep trough of the sea, falling over in the act, 
so as to nearly capsize on the port side. There was a fearful 
crashing as she lay over this way, for everything broke adrift, 
whether secured or not, and the uproar and confusion were ter- 
rific for a minute ; then back she came again on the starboard 
beam in the same manner only quicker and deeper than before. 
Again, there was the same noise and crashing, and the officers in 
the ward-room, realising the danger, struggled to their feet and 
opened the door leading to the main deck. The scene, for an 
instant, defied description. Amid loud shouts and efforts to 
save themselves, a confused mass of sailors, boys, and marines 
with deck-buckets, ropes, ladders, and everything that could get 
loose, and which had fallen back to the port side were being 
hurled again in a mass across the ship to starboard. Dimly, and 
only for a moment, could this be seen ; and then, with a tremen- 
dous crash, as the ship fell over still deeper, the coals stowed on 
the main deck broke loose, and, smashing everything before them, 
went over among the rest to leeward. The coal-dust hid every- 
thing on the main deck in an instant ; but the crashing could 
still be 'heard going on in all directions, as the lumps and sacks 
of coal, with stanchions, ladders, and mess-tins, went leaping 
about the decks, pouring down the hatchways, and crashing 
through the glass skylights into the engine-room below. Matters 
now became most serious ; for it was evident that two or three 
more such lurches and the masts would go like reeds, while half 
the crew might be maimed or killed below. Captain Preedy was 
already on the poop, with Lieutenant Gibson, and it was " Hands, 
wear ship," at once ; while Mr. Brown, the indefatigable chief 
engineer, was ordered to get up steam immediately. The crew 
gained the deck with difficulty, and not till after a lapse of some 
minutes ; for all the ladders had been broken away, the men 
were grimed with coal-dust, and many bore still more serious 
marks upon their faces of how they had been knocked about 
below. There was great confusion at first, for the storm was 
fearful. The officers were quite inaudible ; and a wild, dangerous, 




sea, running mountains high, heeled the great ship backwards 
and forwards, so that the crew were unable to keep their feet for 
an instant, and in some cases were thrown right across the decks. 
Two marines went with a rush head-foremost into the paying- 
out machine, as if they meant to butt it over the side ; yet, 
strange to say, neither the men nor the machine suffered. What 
made matters worse, the ship's barge, though lashed down to the 
deck, had partly broken loose ; and dropping from side to side 
as the vessel lurched, it threatened to crush any who ventured 
to pass. The regular discipline of the ship, however, soon pre- 
vailed ; and the crew set to work to wear round the ship on the 
starboard tack, while Lieutenants Robinson and Murray went 
below to see after those who had been hurt. The marine sentry 
v outside the ward-room door on the main deck had not had time 
to escape, and was completely buried under the coals. Some 
time elapsed before he could be got out ; for one of the beam s 
which had crushed his arm very badly, still lay across the man- 
gled limb jamming it in such a manner that it was found im- 
possible to remove it without risking the man's life. The timber 
had, indeed, to be sawn away before the poor fellow could be 
extricated. Another marine on the lower deck endeavoured to 
save himself by catching hold of what seemed like a ledge in the 
planks ; but, unfortunately, it was only caused by the beams 
straining apart, and, of course, as the Agamemnon righted they 
closed again, and crushed his fingers flat. One of the assistant 
engineers was also buried among the coals on the lower deck, and 
sustained some severe internal injuries. The lurch of the ship 
was calculated at forty-five degrees each way for five times in rapid 
succession. The galley coppers were only half filled with soup ; 
nevertheless, it nearly all poured out, and scalded some of those 
who were extended on the decks, holding on to anything in reach. 
These, with a dislocation, were the chief casualties ; but there 
were others of bruises and contusions, more or less severe, and a 
long list of escapes more marvellous than any injury. One poor 
fellow went head-first from the main deck into the hold without 
being hurt ; and one on the orlop deck was " chevied " .about 


for some ten minutes by three large casks of oil which had got 
adrift, and any one of which would have flattened him like a 
pancake had it overtaken him. 

As soon as the Agamemnon had gone round on the other tack 
the Niagara wore also, and bore down as if to render assistance. 
She had witnessed our danger, and, as we afterwards learnt, 
imagined that the upper deck coil had broken loose and that we 
were sinking. Things, however, were not so bad as that, though 
they were bad enough, Heaven knows, for everything seemed to 
have gone wrong that day. The upper deck coil had strained 
the ship to the very utmost, yet still held on fast. But not so 
the coil in the main hold. This had begun to get adrift, and 
the top kept working and shifting over from side to side, as the 
ship lurched, until some forty or fifty miles were in a hopeless 
state of tangle, resembling nothing so much as a cargo of live 

Going round upon the starboard tack had eased the ship to a 
certain extent. The crew, who had been at work since nearly 
four in the morning, were set to clear up the decks from the masses 
of coal that covered them. About six in the evening it was 
thought better to wear ship once more and stand by for the 
rendezvous under easy steam. Her head accordingly was put 
about and once more faced the storm. As she went round, she of 
course fell into the trough of the sea again, rolling so awfully 
as to break her waste steam-pipe, filling her engine-room with 
steam, and depriving her of the services of one boiler when it was 
sorely needed. The sun set upon as wild and wicked a night as 
ever taxed the courage and coolness of a sailor. There were, of 
course, men on board who were familiar with gales and storms in 
all parts of the world ; and there were some who had witnessed 
the tremendous hurricane which swept the Black Sea on the 
memorable November I4th, when scores of vessels were lost and 
seamen perished by the thousand. But of all on board none had 
ever seen a fiercer or more dangerous sea than raged throughout 
that night and the following morning, tossing the good ship from 
side to side like a mere plaything among the waters. The night 


was thick and very dark, the low black clouds almost hemming 
the vessel in ; now and then a fiercer blast than usual drove the 
great masses slowly aside, and showed the moon, a dim, greasy 
blotch upon the sky, with the ocean white as driven snow- 
boiling and seething like a cauldron. But these were only 
glimpses, alternated with darkness, through which the waves 
rushed upon the ship as though they must overwhelm it, and 
dealing it one staggering blow, went hissing and surging past into 
the darkness again. The grandeur of the scene was almost lost 
in its dangers and terrors, for of all the many forms in which 
death approaches man there is none so easy in fact, so terrific 
in appearance, as death by shipwreck. 

Sleep was impossible that night on board the Agamemnon. 
Even those in cots were thrown out, from their striking against 
the vessel's side as she pitched. The berths of wood fixed athwart- 
ships in the cabins on the main deck had worked to pieces. Chairs 
and tables were broken, chests of drawers capsized, and a little 
surf was running over the floors of the cabins themselves, pour- 
ing miniature seas into portmanteaus, and breaking over carpet- 
bags of clean linen. Fast as it flowed off by the scuppers it came 
in faster by the hawse-holes and ports, while the beams and 
knees strained with a doleful noise, as though it was impossible 
they could hold together much longer. It was, indeed, as anxious 
a night as ever was passed on board any line-of-battle ship in 
Her Majesty's service. Captain Preedy never left the poop 
throughout though it was hard work to remain there, even 
holding on to the poop-rail with both hands. Morning brought no 
change. The storm was as fierce as ever ; and whilst the sea 
could not be higher or wilder, the additional amount of broken 
water made it still more dangerous to the ship. Very dimly, 
and only now and then, through the thick scud, the Niagara 
could be seen one moment on a monstrous hill of water and the 
next quite lost to view, as the Agamemnon went down between 
the waves. Even these glimpses showed us that our Transatlantic 
consort was plunging heavily, shipping seas, and evidently having 
a bad time oi it. But she got through it better than the Agamem- 


non, as of course she could. Suddenly it came on darker and 
thicker, and we lost sight of her in the thick spray, and had only 
ourselves to look after. This was quite enough, for every minute 
made matters worse, and the aspect of affairs began to excite 
serious misgivings in the minds of those in charge. The Agamem- 
non is one of the finest line-of-battle ships in the whole navy ; 
but in such a storm, and so heavily overladen, what could she 
do but make bad weather worse, and strain and labour and fall 
into the trough of the sea, as if she were going down head fore- 
most ? Three or four hours more, and the vessel had borne all 
she could bear with safety. The masts were rapidly getting 
worse, the deck coil worked more and more with each tremendous 
plunge ; and, even if both these held, it was evident that the 
ship itself would soon strain to pieces if the present weather 
continued. The sea, forcing its way through ports and hawse- 
holes, had accumulated on the lower deck to such an extent 
that it floated the stoke-hole, so that the men could scarcely 
remain at their posts. Everything was smashing and rolling 
about. One plunge put all the electrical instruments hors de 
combat at a blow, and staved some barrels of strong solution of 
sulphate of copper, which went cruising about, turning all it 
touched to a light pea-green. By-and-by we began to ship seas. 
Water came down the ventilators near the funnel into the engine- 
room. Then a tremendous sea struck us forward, drenching 
those on deck, and leaving them up to their knees in water, and 
the least versed on board could see that things were fast going 
to the bad unless a change took place in the weather or the con- 
dition of the ship. Of the first there seemed little chance. It 
certainly showed no disposition to clear on the contrary, livid- 
looking black clouds seemed to be closing round the vessel faster 
than ever. For the relief of the ship, three courses were open to 
Captain Preedy one to wear round and try her on the starboard 
tack, as he had been compelled to do the day before ; another, 
to fairly run for it before the. wind ; and, the third and last, to 
endeavour to lighten the vessel by getting some of the cable over- 
bo ard. Of course the latter would not have been thought of 


till the first two had been tried and failed in fact, not till it was 
evident that nothing else could save the ship. Against wearing 
round there was the danger of her again falling off into the trough 
of the sea, losing her masts, shifting the upper deck coil, and so 
finding her way to the bottom in ten minutes ; while to attempt 
running before the storm with such a sea on was to risk her stern 
being stove in and a hundred tons of water added to her burden 
with each wave that came up afterwards, till the poor Agamemnon 
went under them all for ever. A little after ten o'clock on Mon- 
day, the 2ist, the aspect of affairs was so alarming that Captain 
Preedy resolved at all risks to try wearing the ship round on the 
other tack. It was hard enough to make the words of command 
audible, but to execute them seemed almost impossible. The 
ship's head went round enough to leave her broadside on to the 
seas, and then for a time it seemed as if nothing could be done. 
All the rolls which she had ever given on the previous day seemed 
mere trifles compared with her performances then. Of more 
than 200 men on deck at least 150 were thrown down, falling 
over from side to side in heaps while others, holding on to 
ropes, swung to and fro with every heave. It really appeared 
as if the last hour of the stout ship had come, and to this minute 
it seems miraculous that her masts held on. Each time she fell 
over, her main chains went deep under water. The lower decks 
were flooded, and those above could hear by the fearful crashing 
audible amid the hoarse roar of the storm that something 
alarming had happened. It was then found that the coals had, 
once more, got loose below, had broken into the engine room, and 
were carrying all before them. During these rolls the main deck 
coil shifted over to such a degree as to entirely envelope four men, 
who, sitting on the top, were trying to wedge it down with beams. 
One of them was so much jammed by the mass which came over 
him that he was seriously contused. He had to be removed to 
the sick bay, making up the sick list to forty-five of which ten 
were from injuries caused by the rolling of the ship, and most of 
the rest from continual fatigue and exposure during the gale. 
Once round on the starboard tack, and it was seen in an instant 


that the ship was in no degree relieved by the change. Another 
heavy sea struck her forward, sweeping clean over the fore part 
of the vessel, and carrying away the woodwork and platforms 
which had been placed there round the machinery for under- 
running. This and a few more plunges were quite sufficient to 
settle the matter ; and at last Captain Preedy reluctantly suc- 
cumbed to a storm he could neither conquer nor contend against. 
Full steam was got on, and, with a foresail and foretopsail to 
lift her head, the Agamemnon ran before the wind, rolling and 
tumbling over the huge waves at a tremendous pace. It was 
well for all that the wind gave this much way on her, or her 
stern would certainly have been stove in. As it was, a wave 
partly struck her on the starboard quarter, smashing the quarter 
galley and ward-room windows on that side ; and sending such 
a sea into the ward-room itself as to wash two officers off a sofa. 
This was a kind of parting blow ; for the glass began to rise, and 
the storm was evidently beginning to moderate : and although 
the sea still ran as high as ever, there was less broken water, and 
altogether, towards midday, affairs assumed a better and more 
cheerful aspect. The ward-room that afternoon was a study for 
an artist ; with its windows half darkened and smashed, the sea 
water still slushing about in odd corners, with everything that 
was capable of being broken strewn over the floor in pieces, and 
some fifteen or twenty officers, seated amid the ruins, holding 
on to the deck or table with one hand, while with the other they 
contended at a disadvantage with a tough meal the first which 
most had eaten for twenty-four hours. Little sleep had been 
indulged in, though much lolloping about. Those, however, who 
prepared themselves for a night's rest in their berths rather than 
at the ocean bottom, had great difficulty in finding their day 
garments of a morning. The boots especially went astray, and 
got so hopelessly mixed that the man who could " show up " with 
both pairs of his own was, indeed, a man to be congratulated. 

But all things have an end ; and this long gale of over a 
week's duration at last blew itself out, and the weary ocean 
rocked itself to rest. Throughout the whole of Monday the 


Agamemnon ran before the wind, which moderated so much that 
at 4 a.m. on Tuesday her head was once more put about ; and 
for the second time she commenced beating up for the rendezvous, 
then some 200 miles further from us than when the storm was at 
its height on Sunday morning. So little was gained against 
this wind, that Friday, the 25th sixteen days after leaving 
Plymouth still found us some fifty miles from the rendezvous. It 
was, therefore, determined to get up steam and run down on it at 
once. As we approached the place of meeting the angry sea went 
down. The Valorous hove in sight at noon ; in the afternoon the 
Niagara came in from the north ; and at even, the Gorgon from the 
south, and then, almost for the first time since starting, the 
squadron was re-united near the spot where the great work was 
to have commenced fifteen days previously as tranquil in 
the middle of the Atlantic as if in Plymouth Sound. 

The Renewed Effort 

That evening the four vessels lay together side by side, 
and there was such a stillness in the sea and air as would 
have seemed remarkable even on an inland lake. On the 
Atlantic, and after what had been so lately experienced, 
it seemed positively unnatural. 

The boats were out, and the officers were passing from ship 
to ship, telling their experiences of the voyage, and form- 
ing plans for the morrow. Captain Preedy had a sorry 
tale to tell. The strain to which the Agamemnon had been 
subjected during the storm by the great weight, rendering 
her almost unmanageable, and owing to the peculiar nature 
of her cargo had opened her " waterways," where the deck 
and the sides were joined, by about two inches. Then 


again, one of the crew, a marine, had been literally fright- 
ened out of his wits, and remained crazy for some days. 
One man had his arm fractured in two places, and another 
his leg broken. 

The Niagara, on the other hand, had weathered the gale 
splendidly, though nevertheless with her it had been a 
hard and anxious time. She had lost her jib-boom, and 
the buoys she carried for suspending the cable had been 
washed from her sides, no man knew where. After taking 
stock of things generally, a start was made to repair the 
damage. The shifting of the upper part of the main coil on 
the Agamemnon into a hopeless tangle, entailed recoiling 
a considerable length of cable. 

I We will now once more continue our narrative in the words 
of Mr. Nicholas Woods, in reporting for The Times from 
the Agamemnon : 

Neither Mr. Bright, nor Mr. Canning, nor Mr. Clifford was 
to be daunted by the aspect of a difficulty, however formidable. 
Absurd as 'the statement seemed at first, they were all positive 
that the tangle did not extend far down the coil ; and they 
were right. Captain Preedy gave them his hearty assistance ; 
men were at work day and night, drawing it out of the hold 
and coiling it aft on the main deck. For the first twenty-four 
hours the labour seemed hopeless, for so dense was the tangle 
that an hour's hard work would sometimes scarcely clear a 
half-mile. By-and-by, however, it began to mend, the efforts 
were redoubled, and late on Friday night 140 miles had been 
got out, the remainder being clear enough to start work with. 
On the morning of Saturday, the 26th of June, all the prepara- 
tions were completed for making the splice and commencing 
the great undertaking. 

The end of the Niagara s cable was sent on board the Agamem- 


non, the splice was made, a bent sixpence put in for luck, and 
at 2.50, Greenwich time, it was slowly lowered over the side, 
and disappeared for ever. The weather was cold and foggy, 
with a stiff breeze and dismal sort of sleet, and as there was no 
cheering or manifestation of enthusiasm of any kind, the whole 
ceremony had a most funereal effect, seeming as solemn as if 
we were burying a marine, or some similar mortuary task. As 
it turned out, however, it was just as well that no display took 
place, for every one would have looked uncommonly silly when 
the same operation came to be repeated, as it had to be, an hour 
or so afterwards. Not to make a long story longer, I may say 
at once, that when each ship had paid out three miles or so, 
and they were getting well apart, the cable broke on board the 
Niagara, owing to its over-riding and getting off the pulley 
leading on to the machine. 

The mishap was, of course, instantly detected : both vessels 
put about and returned, a fresh splice was made, and again 
lowered over at half-past seven. According to arrangement, 150 
fathoms were veered out from each ship, and then all stood 
away on their course, at first at two miles an hour and after- 
wards at four. Everything then went well, the cable running 
out easily at five and a half miles an hour, the ship going four. 
The greatest strain upon the dynamometer was 2,500 lb., and 
this was but for a few minutes, the average giving only 2,000 
lb. and 2,100 lb. At twelve at midnight, 21 nautical miles 
had been paid out, and the angle of the cable with the horizon 
had been reduced considerably. At about half-past three, 
forty miles had gone, and nothing could be more perfect and 
regular than the working of everything, when suddenly, at 3.40 
a.m., on Sunday, the 27th, Professor Thomson came on deck, 
and reported a total break of continuity ; that the cable, in 
fact, had parted, and, as was believed at the time, from the 
Niagara. The Agamemnon was instantly stopped, and the 
brakes applied to the machinery, in order that the cable paid 
out might be severed from the mass in the hold, and so enable 
Professor Thomson to discover by electrical tests at about what 


distance from the ship the fracture had taken place. 1 Unfor- 
tunately, however, there was a strong breeze on at the time, 
with rather a heavy swell, which told severely upon the cable ; 
and, before any means could be taken to sufficiently ease the 
motion on the ship, it broke the dynamometer indicating a 
strain of nearly 4,000 Ib. In another instant a gun and a blue 
light warned the Valorous of what had happened. This roused 
all on board the Agamemnon to a knowledge that the machinery 
was silent, and that the first part of the Atlantic cable had been 
laid and effectually lost. 

The great length of cable on board both ships allowed a large 
margin for such mishaps as these ; and the arrangement made 
before leaving England was that the splices might be renewed 
and the work recommenced till each ship had lost 250 miles of 
wire, after which they were to discontinue their efforts and 
return to Queenstown. Accordingly, after the breakage on 
Sunday morning, the ships' heads were put about ; and for the 
fourth time the Agamemnon once more entered on the weary 
work of beating up against the wind for that everlasting rendezvous 
which we seemed destined to be always seeking. Apart from 
the regret with which all regarded the loss of the cable, there were 
other reasons for not wishing the cruise to be thus indefinitely 
prolonged. The fact is there had been a break in the continuity 
of fresh provisions ; and for some days previous the pieces de 
resistance had been inflammatory-looking morceaux, salted to an 
astonishing pitch, and otherwise uneatable for it was beef 
which had been kept three years beyond its warranty for sound- 
ness to which all were then reduced. 

It was hard work beating up against the wind ; so hard, 
indeed, that it was not till the noon of Monday, the 28th, that 
we again met the Niagara ; and, while all were waiting with 

1 By subsequent tests it was clear that at any rate the cable re- 
maining on board was perfect. But after comparing notes with the 
Niagara, a strong belief was held that the cable parted probably at 
the bottom. 


impatience for her explanation of how she broke the cable, she 
electrified every one by running up the interrogatory, " How 
did the cable part ? " This was astounding. As soon as the 
boats could be lowered, Mr. Cyrus Field, with the electricians 
from the Niagara, came on board ; and a comparison of logs 
revealed the painful and mysterious fact that at the same second 
of time both vessels discovered that a total fracture had taken 
place at a distance of certainly not less than ten miles from 
each ship. The logs on both sides were so clear as to the minute 
of time and as to the electrical tests showing not merely leak- 
age or defective insulations of the wire, but a total fracture 
that there was no room for doubt as to what had happened. 
Of all the many mishaps connected with the Atlantic telegraph, 
this was the worst and most disheartennig ; since it proved 
that, despite w r hat human skill and science could effect in laying 
the wire down with safety, there may be some fatal obstacles to 
success at the bottom of the ocean which can never be guarded 
against. Was the bottom covered with a soft coating of ooze 
in which it had been said the cable might rest undisturbed for 
years, as on a bed of down ? or were there, after all, sharp- 
pointed rocks lying on that supposed plateau of Maury, Berry- 
man and Dayman ? These were the questions that some of 
those on board were asking. 

But there was no use in further conjecture, or in repining over 
what had already happened. Though the prospect of success 
appeared to be considerably impaired, it was generally con- 
sidered that there was but one course left,, and that was to splice 
again and make another and what was fondly hoped would 
be a final attempt. Accordingly, no time was lost in making 
the third splice, which was lowered into 2,000 fathoms of water 
at seven o'clock that evening. Before steaming away as the 
Agamemnon was now getting very short of coal it was agreed 
that if the wire parted again before the ships had gone each 100 
miles from the rendezvous they were to return and make another 
splice. If, on the other hand, the 100 miles had been exceeded, 
the ships were not to return, but each make for Queenstown, 


With this understanding the ships again parted ; and, with the 
wire dropping steadily down between them, the Niagara and 
Agamemnon steamed away, and were soon lost in the cold raw 
fog which had hung over the rendezvous ever since the operations 
had commenced. 

The cable, as before, paid out beautifully, and nothing could 
have been more regular and more easy than the working of every 
part of the apparatus. At first the ship's speed was only two 
knots, the cable going three, with a strain of 1,500 lb., the hori- 
zontal angle averaging as low as seven, and the vertical about 
sixteen. By-and-by, however, the speed was increased to four 
knots, the cable going five, at a strain of 2,000 lb., and an angle 
of from twelve to fifteen. At this rate it was kept, with trifling 
variations, throughout Monday night, neither Mr. Bright, Mr. 
Canning, nor Mr. Clifford ever quitting the machine for an 
instant. Towards the middle of the night, while the rate of the 
ship continued the same, the speed at which the cable paid out 
slackened nearly a knot, while the dynamometer indicated as 
low as 1,300 lb. This change could only be accounted for on 
the supposition that the water had shallowed to a considerable 
extent, and that the vessel was, in fact, passing over some sub- 
marine Ben Nevis or Skiddaw. After an interval of about an 
hour the strain and rate of progress of the cable increased again, 
while the increase of the vertical angle seemed to indicate that 
the wire was sinking down the side of a declivity. Beyond this 
there was no variation throughout Monday night, or, indeed, 
through Tuesday. The upper deck coil, which had weighed so 
heavily upon the ship and still more heavily upon the minds 
of all during the past storms was fast disappearing, and by 
twelve at midday on Tuesday, the 29th, seventy-six miles had 
been paid out to something like sixty miles progress of the ship. 
Warned by repeated failures, many of those on board scarcely 
dared to hope for success ; but the spirits of all rose as the dis- 
tance widened between the ships. Things were going in splendid 
style in such splendid style that "stock had gone up nearly 
100 per cent." Those who had leisure for sleep were able to 


dream about cable-laying and the terrible effects of too great a 
strain. The first question which such as these ask on awakening 
is about the cable. For those who do not derive any particular 
pleasure from the mere asking of questions, the harmonious 
music made by the paying-out machine during its revolutions 
supplies the necessary information. 

Then, again, the electrical continuity after all the most im- 
portant item was perfect, and the electricians reported that 
the signals passing between the ships were eminently satisfactory. 
The door of the testing-room is almost always shut, and the 
electricians pursue their work undisturbed ; but it is impossible 
to exclude that spirit of scientific inquiry which will satiate its 
thirst for information even through a keyhole ! Further, the 
weather was all that could be wished for. Indeed, had the poet 
who was so anxious for " life on the ocean wave, and a home on 
the rolling deep " been aboard, he would have been absolutely 
happy, and perhaps even more desirous for a fixed habitation. 

The only cause that warranted anxiety was that it was evident 
the upper deck coil would be finished by about eleven o'clock at 
night, when the men would have to pass along in darkness the 
great loop which formed the communication between that and 
the coil in the main hold. This was most unfortunate ; but the 
operation had been successfully performed in daylight during 
the experimental trip in the Bay of Biscay, and every precaution 
was now taken that no accident should occur. At nine o'clock 
by ship's time, when 146 miles had been paid out, and about 
112 miles distance from the rendezvous accomplished, the last 
flake but one of the upper deck coil came in turn to be used. In 
order to make it easier in passing to the main coil, the revolu- 
tions of the screw were reduced gradually, by two revolutions 
at a time, from thirty to twenty, while the paying-out machine 
went slowly from thirty-six to twenty- two. At this rate, the 
vessel going three knots and the cable three and a half, the oper- 
ation was continued with perfect regularity, the dynamometer 
indicating a strain of 2,100 Ib. Suddenly, without an instant's 
warning, or the occurrence of any single incident that could 


account for it, the cable parted, when subjected to a strain of 
less than a ton. 1 The gun that again told the Valorous of this 
fatal mishap brought all on board the Agamemnon rushing to 
the deck. This time, few could believe the rumour, that had 
spread like wildfire about the ship ; but there stood the machine 
silent and motionless, while the fractured end of the wire hung 
over the stern wheel, swinging loosely to and fro. It seemed 
almost impossible to realise the fact that an accident so instan- 
taneous and irremediable should have occurred, and at a time 
when all seemed to be going so well. A variety of ingenious 
suggestions were, however, soon afloat, showing most satis- 
factorily how the cable must and ought to have broken. There 
was a regular gloom that night on board the Agamemnon. From 
first to last the success of the expedition had been uppermost 
in the thoughts of all. Every one had laboured for it early 
and late, contending with each danger and overcoming numer- 
ous obstacles and disasters with an earnestness and devotion 
of purpose that is beyond all praise. Immediately after the 
mishap, a brief consultation was held by those in charge. As 
it was shown that they had only exceeded the distance from the 
rendezvous by fourteen miles, and as there was still enough cable 
on board the two vessels, it was determined to return to the 
rendezvous with a view to making another effort at carrying the 
undertaking to a successful issue. The journey to the rendezvous 
had, of course, to be effected under sail, the coal bunkers having 
to be closely guarded lest, if in coming to paying out the cable 
again, steam should run short thereby endangering the success 
of the whole enterprise. 

For the fifth time, therefore, the Agamemnon's head went 
about, and after twenty days at sea she was once more beating 
up against the wind. The following day the wind was blowing 
strongly from the south-west, with mist and rain, and Thursday, 

1 This was from the last turn in the coil, and subsequently it was 
discovered that, owing to the disturbance in the flooring of the tank 
during the storm, the cable had been damaged here. 


the ist of July, gave every one the most unfavourable opinion of 
July weather in the Atlantic. The wind and sea were both high 
the wet fog so dense that one could scarcely see a mast's head, 
while the damp cold was really biting. Altogether it was an 
atmosphere of which a Londoner would have been ashamed 
even in November. Later in the day a heavy sea got up ; the 
wind increased without dissipating the fog, and it was double- 
reefed topsails, and pitching and rolling as before. However, 
the upper deck coil of 250 tons being gone, the Agamemnon was 
as buoyant as a lifeboat, and no one cared how much she took 
to kicking about, though the cold wet log was a miserable nuisance, 
penetrating everywhere, and making the ship as wet inside as 
out. What made matters worse was that in such weather there 
seemed no chance of meeting the Niagara unless she ran into us, 
when cable-laying would have gone on wholesale ! In order 
to avoid such a contretemps, and also to inform the Valorous of 
our whereabouts, guns were fired, fog bells rung, and the bugler 
stationed forward, to warn the other vessels of our vicinity. 
Friday was the ditto of Thursday, and Saturday worse than 
both together ; for it almost blew a gale, and there was a very 
heavy sea on. On Sunday, the 4th, it cleared ; and the Agamem- 
non, for the first time during the whole cruise, reached the actual 
rendezvous, and fell in with the Valorous, which had been there 
since Friday, the 2nd. But the fog must have been even thicker 
there than elsewhere, for she had scarcely seen herself much 
less anything else till Sunday. 

During the remainder of that day arid Monday, when the 
weather was very clear, both ships cruised over the place of 
meeting, but neither the Niagara nor Gorgon was there, though 
day and night the look-out for them was constant and incessant. 
It was evident, then, that the Niagara had rigidly but most 
unfortunately adhered to the mere letter of the agreement 
regarding the 100 miles, and after the last fracture had at once 
turned back for Queenstown. On Tuesday, the 6th, therefore, 
as the dense fogs and winds set in again, it was agreed between 
the Valorous and Agamemnon to return once more to the rendez- 


vous. But, as usual, the fog was so thick that the whole American 
navy might have been cruising there unobserved. The search 
was, therefore, given up; and at eight o'clock that night the 
ship's head was turned for Cork. The voyage home was made 
with ease and swiftness considering the lightness of the wind 
and the trim of the ship ; and at midday on Tuesday, July iath, 
the good ship cast anchor in Queenstown harbour, having met 
with more dangerous weather and encountered more mishaps 
than often falls to the lot of any ship in a cruise of thirty-three 

Thus ended the most arduous and dangerous expedition 
that has ever been experienced in connection with cable- 
work. It, at any rate, had the advantage of supplying the 
public with some exciting reading in the columns of The 
Times, and Mr. Woods' graphic descriptions were much 
appreciated even by other eye-witnesses. 

As regards Charles Bright's diary during this period 
with the constant strain of responsibility on his shoulders 
it had necessarily consisted, in the main, of rough pencil 
notices referring to details such as miles run, cable paid 
out, strain on dynamometer, percentage of slack, etc. The 
subject of our biography used to say that, arduous as it was, 
the life on board resembled a good ball " the excitement 
keeping one going." For purposes of accuracy it is to be 
regretted, of course, that those holding responsible positions 
seldom have time to write a record of the events, or even 
to .attend to representatives of the press. If it were other- 
wise, there would be fewer false statements, which are passed 
on to posterity very often for want of being contradicted by 
the few who know better but have other matters to see to. 
In this particular instance, however, not only did Mr. Woods 


tell his story of the Atlantic cable-laying in a most palatable 
form far more so than would be possible by any of the 
officials engaged in the work but his account was notably 

The Niagara had reached Queenstown as far back as 
July 5th. Those in charge having found they had run 
out a hundred and nine miles when " continuity " ceased, 
considered that, in order to carry out their instruc- 
tions, they should return at once to the above port 
which they did. Before bearing homewards, however, and 
whilst the line was still hanging on to the ship's stern, op- 
portunity was taken to make what proved to be an eminently 
satisfactory test in regard to the strength of the cable. 
After all hope of the continuity being restored was aban- 
doned, the brakes were shut down so that the paying-out 
machine could not move. In this way the process of pay- 
ing-out was stopped for about an hour and a half, during 
which the whole weight of the Niagara was literally held 
by the slender cord, the wind blowing fresh all the time. 
And yet the cable did not break until the pressure put upon 
the brakes had reached an equivalent of over four tons 
strain ! 

On the two ships meeting at Queenstown, discussion 
immediately took place (i) as to the cessation of con- 
tinuity, and (2) regarding the plan adopted by the Niagara 
in returning home so promptly. The non-arrival of the 
Agamemnon till nearly a week later had been the cause 
of much alarm as regards her safety. 



Finis coronal opus 

The sad tale of disaster commenced to spread abroad 
immediately on the Niagara s arrival in Queenstown ; and 
when Mr. Field hastened to London to meet the other 
directors of the Company, he found that the news had not 
only preceded him but had already had its effect. The 
Board was soon called together. It met in the same room 
in which, six weeks earlier, it had discussed the prospects 
of the expedition with full confidence of success. Now it 
met as a council of war summoned after a terrible defeat, to 
decide whether to surrender or to try once more the chances 
of battle. 

As described by Mr. Henry Field : 

" Most of the directors looked blankly in one another's faces." 
With some the feeling was one akin to despair. It was thought 
by many that there was nothing left on which to found an 
expectation of future success, or to encourage the expenditure 
of further capital upon an adventure so " completely visionary." 
Sir William Brown (the first chairman), whilst recommending 
complete abandonment of the undertaking, suggested " a sale of 
the cable remaining on board the ships, and a distribution of the 
proceeds amongst the shareholders." 

Mr. Brooking, the vice-chairman, also now convinced of the 
impracticability of the undertaking, sent in his resignation. 

Bolder counsels, however, were destined to prevail. 
There were those who thought there was still a chance- 
like Robert Bruce, who, after twelve battles and twelve 
defeats, yet believed that a thirteenth might bring victory. 
Besides the projectors J. W. Brett, Charles Bright and 


Cyrus Field Mr. Curtis Lampson (who succeeded Mr. 
Brooking as deputy-chairman) made a firm stand for action 
at once, as did also Professor Thomson 1 and Mr. White- 
house. These advocates of non-surrender at length suc- 
ceeded in carrying an order for the immediate sailing of the 
expedition for a final effort. It was this effort which proved 
to the world the possibility of telegraphing from one hemi- 
sphere to the other. 

The order to advance having been given, the ships imme- 
diately took in coal and other necessaries. 

During this interval, and whilst in London, Charles Bright 
availed himself of the opportunity to run down to his coun- 
try home near Harrow for a single day and night, thus 
catching a glimpse of those dearest to him. On leaving, 
he remarked to his young wife, " I don't say we shall do it 
even this time, but we shall do it some time." This was 
very characteristic of the man. It will probably be ad- 
mitted that the failing with many is that though they set 
their teeth at a thing, they do not do so for long enough. 
That could scarcely be said of young Bright. 

When everything and everybody had been shipped, the 
squadron left Queenstown once more on Saturday, July i7th. 
As the ships sailed out of the harbour of Cork, it was with 
none of the enthusiasm which attended their departure from 
Valentia the year before, or even the small amount excited 

1 Whilst the ships were lying at Queenstown, Professor Thomson 
had transmitted signals through the entire length of cable on the 
two ships, thereby again demonstrating the electrical practicability 
of the line. 


when leaving Plymouth on June icth. Nobody so much as 
cheered. In fact, their mission was by this time spoken of 
as a " mad freak " of " stubborn ignorance " ! 

The squadron was the same as on the last occasion. It 
was agreed that the ships should not attempt to keep to- 
gether this time, but that each should make its way to the 
given latitude and longitude. The staff were composed 
and berthed as before, Mr. Field once more taking up his 
quarters aboard the Niagara. Moreover, the expedition 
was again accompanied by the same literary talent ; and 
we cannot do better now than give the story as it is con- 
tinued by Mr. Nicholas Woods on behalf of The Times, 1 so far 
as the Agamemnon (containing Charles Bright) is concerned 

As your readers have already been informed by telegraph, 
the submarine communication between the Old and New Worlds 
is now an accomplished fact. In the face of difficulties and 
dangers, the engineers engaged in this undertaking have, with 
almost untiring energy, adhered to their task with that perse- 
verance which is sure, sooner or later, to lead to success. There 
were but few some twenty days ago who, after the unsuccessful 
return of the squadron to Queenstown, would have dared to 
predict such a speedy and glorious termination to all the trials 
and difficulties that the promoters of this enterprise have under- 
gone. The final accomplishment of the scheme seemed indeed 
up to the last moment to hang upon a hair. Many serious diffi- 
culties had to be encountered during the six days and a half 
that the operations lasted. Any one of these might have ruined 
the expedition and delayed the advance of ocean telegraphs 
perhaps more than half a century. But the difficult task has 
now been accomplished ; and it only remains for us to accept 

1 The Times, Wednesday, August nth, 1858. 


the benefits which it will undoubtedly confer upon the com- 
munity. Wonderful as the conception of conveying sensations 
across the almost unknown depths of the ocean may seem to 
us now, yet in a very little time people will forget the marvel 
while profiting by the fact ; and, without remembering the 
years of anxious toil and discouragement which those who have 
secured this boon to the community have undergone to secure 
success, the wonder will be, not that the undertaking has been 
carried out at all, but that it had not been accomplished long 
before. It has been the custom of mankind to honour the lives 
and celebrate the deeds of great statesmen, successful warriors, 
and eminent divines. Indeed, of such materials are the links 
in the chain of history chiefly composed. But those men who, 
by patient thought and persevering ;action, have achieved vic- 
tories over matter which secure to the community permanent 
advantages very often have their trouble for their reward. It 
is to be hoped that this may not be the case with those who 
have been mainly instrumental in bringing this great work to 
a successful termination. It must be confessed that the pros- 
pects of success were very remote when the squadron left Queens- 
town on the iyth of last month. The amount of cable in the 
two ships had been reduced by nearly 400 miles ; and the re- 
collection of three separate and most unaccountable breakages 
was still fresh in the minds of all who had accompanied the 
first expedition. There was no assurance whatever that the 
very same thing would not occur again. The cable might, and 
evidently did, as far as the contractors are concerned, fulfil all 
the guaranteed requirements ; and the numerous accidents 
which occurred might be due to the cable having become injured 
during the gale. This supposition, though it may be gratifying 
to Messrs. Glass, Elliot & Co., and to Messrs. Newall & Co., was 
no consolation to either the engineers or the shareholders. Under 
these circumstances, it is not surprising that many regarded 
the prosecution of the scheme as a waste of the shareholders' 
money. However, in spite of the most vehement opposition, 
the majority of the directors determined to despatch the expe- 


dition to try their fortune once again in mid-ocean before they 
finally abandoned the project as impracticable. Accordingly, on 
the morning of Saturday, theiyth of July the Valorous, Gorgon, 
and Niagara, having completed coaling, steamed away from 
Queenstown for the rendezvous. The Agamemnon, having to wait 
for Professor W. Thomson, one of the directors, who took charge 
of the electrical department on board, 1 did not weigh anchor 
till two o'clock on the following morning. As the ships left the 
harbour there was apparently no notice taken of their departure 
by those on shore or in the vessels anchored around them. 
Every one appeared impressed with the conviction that we 
were engaged in a hopeless enterprise ; and the squadron seemed 
rather to have slunk away on some discreditable mission than to 
have sailed for the accomplishment of a grand national scheme. 

It was just dawn when the Agamemnon got clear of Queens- 
town Harbour. Of the voyage out there is little to be said: It 
is not checkered by the excitement of continual storms or the 
tedium of perpetual calms, but we had a sufficient admixture of 
both to render our passage to the rendezvous a very ordinary and 
uninteresting one. With very little breeze, or wind, the screw 
was got up and sails set, so as to husband our coals as much as 
possible ; but it soon fell calm, and obliged Captain Preedy to 
again get up steam. In consequence of continued delays and 
changes from steam to sail, and from sail to steam, much fuel 
was expended, and not more than eighty miles of distance made 
good each day. On Sunday, the 25th, however, the weather 
changed, and for several days in succession there was an un- 
interrupted calm. The moon was just at the full ; and for the 
next few nights it shone with a brilliancy which turned the 
smooth sea into one silvery sheet, which brought out the dark 
hull and white sails of the ship in strong contrast to the sea and 
sky as the vessel lay all but motionless on the water the very 

L The gentleman holding the position of electrician to the Com- 
panyMr. Whitehouse was still, under medical advice, prevented 
from accompanying the expedition. 


impersonation of solitude and repose. Indeed, until the rendez- 
vous was gained, we had such a succession of beautiful sunrises, 
gorgeous sunsets, and tranquil moonlight nights as would have 
excited the most enthusiastic admiration of any but persons 
situated as we were. But by us scenes of this sort were re- 
garded only as the annoying indications of the calm which 
delayed our progress and wasted our coals. To say that it was 
calm is not doing full justice to it there was not a breath in 
the air, and the water was as smooth as a mill-pond. Even 
the wake of the ship scarce ruffled its surface ; and the gulls 
which had visited us almost daily, and to which our benevolent 
liberality had dispensed innumerable helpings of pork threw 
an almost unbroken shadow upon it as they stooped in their 
flight to pick up the largest and most tempting. It was generally 
remarked that cable-laying under such circumstances would be 
mere child's play. In spite of the unusual calmness of the 
weather in general, there were days on which our former un- 
pleasant experiences of the Atlantic were brought forcibly to 
mind when it blew hard, and the sea ran sufficiently high to 
reproduce on a minor scale some of the discomforts of which 
the previous cruise had been so fruitful. These days, however, 
were the exception and not the rule. They served to show how 
much more pleasant was the inconvenient calm than the weather 
which had previously prevailed. 

The precise point of the rendezvous marked by a dot on the 
chart was reached on the evening of Wednesday, the 28th July, 
just eleven days after our departure from Queenstown. The 
voyage out was a lazy one. Now things are different, and we 
no longer hear of the prospects of the heroes and heroines of 
the romances and novels which have formed the staple food for 
animated discussion for some days past. The rest of the squad- 
ron were in sight at nightfall, but at such a considerable distance 
that it was past ten o'clock on the morning of Thursday, the 
2gth, before the Agamemnon joined them. Some time previous 
to reaching the rendezvous the engineer-in-chief (Mr. Bright) 
went up in the shrouds on the look-out for the other ships, and 


accordingly had to " pay his footing " much to the amusement 
of his staff. Most of them being more advanced in years would 
probably have been less equal to the task in an athletic sense. 

After the ordinary laconic conversation which characterises 
code flag signals x we were as usual greeted by a perfect storm 
of questions as to what kept us so much behind our time, and 
learned that all had come to the conclusion that the ship must 
have got on shore on leaving Queenstown Harbour. The Niagara, 
it appeared, had arrived at the rendezvous on Friday night, the 
23rd, the Valorous on Sunday the 25th, and the Gorgon on the 
afternoon of Tuesday, the 27th. 

The day was beautifully calm, so no time was to be lost be- 
fore making the splice in lat. 529 / N., long. 32^7' W., and 
soundings of 1,500 fathoms. Boats were soon lowered from 
the attendant ships, the two vessels made fast by a hawser, and 
the Niagara's end of the cable conveyed on board the Agamemnon. 
About half -past twelve o'clock the splice was effectually made, 
but with a very different frame from the carefully rounded semi- 
circular boards which had been used to enclose the junctions 
on previous occasions. It consisted merely of two straight 
boards hauled over the joint and splice, with the iron rod and 
leaden plummet attached to the centre. In hoisting it out 
from the side of the ship, however, the leaden sinker broke short 
off and fell overboard. There being no more convenient weight 
at hand, a 32 Ib. shot was fastened to the splice instead ; and 
the whole apparatus was quickly dropped into the sea without 
any formality and, indeed, almost without a spectator for 
those on board the ship had witnessed so many beginnings to 
the telegraphic line that it was evident they despaired of there 
ever being an end to it. 

1 Such as, "I hope you are all well." " Very well, I thank 
you." A touch of irony characterised one, however, when the 
Gorgon asked the Niagara if she had any coal to spare, the reply 
this time by word of mouth came, " None at all. I think the 
Agamemnon could give you some, as she can't have burned much 
since she left ! " 


The stipulated 210 fathoms of cable having been paid out 
to allow the splice to sink well below the surface, the signal to 
start was hoisted, the hawser cast loose, and the Niagara and 
Agamemnon start for the last time at about I p.m. for their 
opposite destinations. The announcement comes from the 
electrician's testing-room that the continuity is perfect, and 
with this assurance the engineers go on more boldly with the 
work. In point of fact the engineers may be said to be very 
much under the control of the electricians during paying out ; 
for if they report anything wrong with the cable, the engineers 
are brought to a stand until they are allowed to go on with 
their operations by the announcement of the electricians that 
the insulation is perfect and the continuity all right. The 
testing-room is where the subtle current which flows along the 
conductor is generated, and where the mysterious apparatus 
by which electricity is weighed and measured as a marketable 
commodity is fitted up. The system of testing and trans- 
mitting and receiving signals through the cable from ship to 
ship during the process of paying out must now be briefly re- 
ferred to. It consists of an exchange of currents sent alternately 
every ten minutes by each ship. These not only serve to give 
an accurate test of the continuity and insulation of the con- 
ducting wire from end to end, but also to give certain signals 
which it is desirable to send for information purposes. For 
instance, every ten miles of cable paid out is signalised from 
ship to ship, as also the approach to land or momentary stoppage 
for splicing, shifting to a fresh coil, etc. The current in its 
passage is made to pass through an electro-magnetometer, an 
instrument used by Mr. Whitehouse. It is also conveyed in 
its passage at each end of the cable through the reflecting gal- 
vanometer and speaking instrument just invented by Prof. 
Thomson ; and it is this latter which is so invaluable, not only 
for the interchange of signals, but also for testing purposes. 
The deflections read on the galvanometer, as also the degree 
of charge and discharge indicated by the magnetometer, are 
carefully recorded. Thus, if a defect of continuity or insulation 


occurs, it is brought to light by comparison with those received 

For the first three hours the ships proceeded very slowly, 
paying out a great quantity of slack ; but after the expiration 
of this time the speed of the Agamemnon was increased to about 
five knots, the cable going at about six, without indicating 
more than a few hundred pounds of strain upon the dynamo- 
meter. Shortly after four o'clock a large whale was seen ap- 
proaching the starboard bow at a great speed, rolling and tossing 
the sea into foam all round ; and for the first time we felt a 
possibility for the supposition that our second mysterious break- 
age of the cable might have been caused after all by one of these 
animals getting foul of it under water. It appeared as if it 
were making direct for the cable ; and great was the relief of 
all when the ponderous living mass was seen slowly to pass 
astern, just grazing the cable where it entered the water but 
fortunately without doing any mischief. 

All seemed to go well up to about eight o'clock ; the cable 
paid out from the hold with an evenness and regularity which 
showed how carefully and perfectly it had been coiled away. 
The paying-out machine also worked so smoothly that it left 
nothing to be desired. Thus far everything looked promising. 
But in such a hazardous work no one knows what a few minutes 
may bring forth, and soon after eight o'clock a damaged piece 
of the cable was discovered about a mile or two from the portion 
paying out. Not a moment was lost by Mr. Canning, the en- 
gineer on duty, in setting men to work to cobble up the injury as 
well as time would permit ; for the cable was going out at such 
a pace that the damaged portion would be paid overboard in 
less than twenty minutes, and former experience had shown us 
that to check either the speed of the ship or the cable would, 
in all probability, be attended by fatal results. Just before 
the lapping was finished Professor Thomson reported that the 
electrical continuity of the wire had ceased, but that the insu- 
lation was still perfect. Attention was naturally directed to 
the injured piece as the probable source of the stoppage, and 


not a moment was lost in cutting the cable at that point, with 
the intention of making a perfect splice. 1 To the consternation 
of all, the electrical tests applied showed the fault to be over- 
board, and in all probability some fifty miles from the ship. 
Not a second was to be lost, for it was evident that the cut 
portion must be paid overboard in a few minutes ; and in the 
meantime the tedious and difficult operation of making a splice 
had to be performed. The ship was immediately stopped, and 
no more cable paid out than was absolutely necessary to prevent 
it breaking. As the stern of the ship was lifted by the waves 
a scene of most intense excitement followed. It seemed im- 
possible that the junction could be finished before the part was 
taken out of the hands of the workmen. The main hold pre- 
sented an extraordinary scene. Every one stood in groups 

1 In connection with the above, an extract from Bright's diary 
will serve to fill up some gaps: 

" 29th July, Greenwich time, 10 p.m. Signals ceased from Niagara. 
Professor Thomson reported loss of continuity, with insulation 
good. To ascertain whether fault was at the piece of cable which 
was about to be lapped, the cable was sprung open at this point 
and the gutta-percha wire pricked, and the part in the ship found 
good ; pricked again nearer stern, found good inside ship. 

" No indication of fracture during the time. It was then cut 
about ten turns from the outgoing part, and the test showed the 
loss of continuity to be far from the ship probably more than forty 
miles, but decidedly less than 200. 

" Joint made again as quickly as possible, and tested. Want 
of continuity and good insulation still experienced. When one turn 
off joint, commenced veering out again. Ship's time, 9-5 P- m - 
Splice paid over safely. Same results. Strong current came. On 
testing, ' earth ' found about middle of cable, and on currents 
again coming it was concluded that the cable had been cut on board 

the Niagara. 

" Signals then sent and received regularly, and showed 1,200 or 

1,300 miles in circuit. 

No te. This trouble might have been avoided had complel 
speaking arrangements been made." 


about the coil, watching with great anxiety the cable as it slowly 
unwound itself nearer and nearer the joint, while the workmen 
worked at the splice as only men could work who felt that the 
life and death of the expedition depended upon their rapidity. 
But all their speed was to no purpose, as the cable was unwinding 
within a hundred fathoms. As a last and desperate resource 
the cable was stopped altogether, and for a few minutes the 
ship hung on by the end. Fortunately, however, it was only 
for a few minutes, as the strain was continually rising above 
two tons, and it would not hold on much longer. When the 
splice was finished the signal was made to loose the stoppers, 
and happily it passed overboard in safety. 

When the excitement, consequent upon having so narrowly 
saved the cable, had passed away, we awoke to the consciousness 
that the case was yet as hopeless as ever, for the electrical con- 
tinuity was still entirely wanting ! Preparations were con- 
sequently made to pay out as little rope as possible, and to 
hold on for six hours in the hope that the fault whatever it 
should prove to be might mend itself before cutting the cable 
and returning to the rendezvous to make another splice. The 
magnetic needles on the receiving instruments were watched 
closely for the returning signals ; when, in a few minutes, the 
last hope 'was extinguished by their suddenly indicating dead 
earth, which tended to show that the cable had broken from the 
Niagara, or that the insulation had been completely destroyed. 
Nothing, however, could be done. The only course was to 
wait until the current should return or take its final departure. 
It actually did return with greater strength than ever ; and 
in three minutes every one was agreeably surprised by the 
intelligence that the signals had again appeared at their 
regular intervals from the Niagara.' 1 It is needless to say 

1 Later on it was made clear that this mysterious temporary 
want of continuity accompanied by an apparent variation in the 
insulation was due to a defect in the more or less inconstant sand 
battery used aboard the latter vessel. 



what a load of anxiety this news removed from the minds of 
every one ; but the general confidence in the ultimate success 
of the operations was much shaken by the occurrence, 
for all felt that every minute a similar accident might 

again occur. 1 

For some time the paying-out continued as usual, but towards 
the morning another damaged place was discovered in the cable. 

1 This unpleasant incident regarding the continuity was never 
forgotten to the last, and forbade all to indulge in sanguine expec- 
tations, even when prospects seemed perfect. One of those repre- 
senting the Press wrote : " The sailors, who are somewhat in the 
dark as to the scientific definition of the term ' continuity,' believe 
it to be at the bottom of all the trouble, and credit it even with 
vindictive qualities. ' Darn the continuity,' said an old ' salt,' 
after what was to him a highly scientific but, to his audience of 
messmates, a rather foggy dissertation on the subject of cable- 
work. ' Darn the continuity ; I wish they would get rid of it alto- 
gether. It has caused a jolly sight more trouble than the business 
is worth. I say they ought to do without it, and let it go. I 
believe they'd get the cable down if they didn't pay any attention 
to it ! You see,' he went on, ' I was on the last exhibition (expedi- 
tion he meant, but it was all the same his messmates did not 
mistake his meaning) and I thought I'd never hear the end of it. 
They were always talking about it ; and one night when we were 
out last year it was gone for two hours, and we thought that was 
the end of the affair, and we should never hear of it again. But it 
came back, and soon after the cable busted. Now, I tell you what 
men, I'll never forget that night, I tell you. We all felt we had lost 
our best friend. After that I have never heard the word " con- 
tinuity," or " contiguity," or whatever it is, mentioned, but I was 
always afraid something was going to happen. And that's a fact.' 
This was conclusive on the minds of the majority of his hearers- 
However, a number were of opinion that it was all right, and at 
the risk of being considered humbugs asserted their belief that 
whatever might be said against the continuity they couldn't do 
without it, and that, on the contrary, it was because it was gone 
all the trouble had occurred." 


Yet, fortunately, there was time to repair it in the hold without 
in any way interfering with the operations, beyond slightly 
reducing the speed of the ship for a few moments. Observa- 
tions made at noon on Friday showed that we had made good 
ninety miles from the starting-point since the previous day, 
with an expenditure of 135 miles of cable. During the latter 
portion of the day the barometer fell considerably, and towards 
the evening it blew almost a gale of wind from the eastward, 
dead ahead of our course. As the breeze freshened, the speed 
of the engines was gradually increased ; but the wind more 
than increased in proportion, so that before the sun went down 
the Agamemnon was going full steam against the wind, only 
making a speed of some four knots. 

During the evening top masts were lowered, and spars, yards, 
sails, and, indeed, everything aloft that could offer resistance 
to the wind was sent down on deck. Still the ship made but 
little way, chiefly in consequence of the heavy sea ; and the 
enormous quantity of fuel consumed showed us that if the wind 
lasted we should be reduced to burning the masts, spars, and 
even the decks, to bring the ship into Valentia. It seemed to 
be our particular ill-fortune to meet with head winds which- 
ever way the ship's head was turned. On our journey out we 
had been delayed and obliged to consume an undue proportion 
of coal for want of an easterly wind, and now all our fuel was 
wanted because of one. However, during the next day the 
wind gradually went round to the south-west, which, though 
it raised a heavy sea, allowed us to husband our small 
remaining store of fuel. 

At noon on Saturday, the 315! of July, observations showed us to 
be in lat. 5223 / N., and long. 2644' W., having made good 
1 20 miles of distance since noon of the previous day, with a 
loss of about 27 per cent, of cable. The Niagara, as far as 
could be judged from the amount of cable she paid out which 
was signalled at every ten miles kept pace with us, within one 
or two miles, the whole distance across. During the afternoon 
of Saturday the wind again freshened. Before nightfall it blew 


nearly a gale of wind, and a tremendous sea ran before it from 
the south-west, which made the Agamemnon pitch and toss to 
such an extent that it was thought unlikely the cable could 
hold through the night. Indeed, had it not been for the constant 
care and watchfulness exercised by Mr. Bright and his two 
energetic assistants, Mr. Canning and Mr. Clifford, it could not 
have been done at all. Men were kept at the wheels of the 
machine to prevent their stopping (as the stern of the ship 
rose and fell with the sea), for had they done so the cable must 
have parted. 1 During Sunday the sea and wind increased, and 
before the evening it blew a smart gale. Now, indeed, were 
the energy and activity of all engaged in the operation tasked 
to the utmost. Mr. Hoar and Mr. Moore, the two engineers 
who had the charge of the relieving wheels of the dynamo- 
meter, had to keep watch and watch alternately every four 
hours, and while on duty durst not let their attention be removed 
from their occupation for one moment ; for on their releasing 
the brake every time the stern of the ship fell into the trough 
of the sea entirely depended the safety of the cable, and the 
result shows how ably they discharged their duty. Throughout 
the night there were few who had the least expectation of the 
cable holding on till morning, and many lay awake listening for 
the sound that every one dreaded to hear viz., the gun which 
should announce the failure of all our hopes. But still the 
cable which, in comparison with the ship from which it was 
paid out and the gigantic waves among which it was delivered, 

1 The paying-out apparatus was roped in, with a notice placed 
conspicuously, reading thus : " No one here except the Engineers' 
Watch." This was certainly laconic ; but if any other than the 
privileged few made his way inside the sacred ground, the marine 
who stood close by informed him he must leave. That was not all, 
however ; for if under the impression that he was at liberty to talk 
to the operator in charge of the dynamometer, he was soon made 
aware of the absurdity of such an idea by another inscription to 
the effect that no conversation was allowed with that particular 



was but a mere thread continued toehold on, only leaving a 
silvery phosphorescent line upon the stupendous seas as they 
rolled on towards the ship. 

With Sunday morning came no improvement in the weather. 
Still the sky remained black and stormy to windward, and the 
constant violent squalls of wind and rain which prevailed during 
the whole day served to keep up if not to augment the height 
of the waves. But the cable had gone through so much during 
the night that our confidence in its continuing to hold was much 
restored. 1 At noon observations showed us to be in lat. 
5226'N., and long. 23i6 / W., having made good 130 miles from 
noon of the previous day, and about 350 from our starting-point 
in mid-ocean. We had passed by the deepest sounding of 2,400 
fathoms, and over more than half of the deep water generally ; 
while the length of cable still remaining in the ship was more 
than sufficient to carry us to the Irish coast, even supposing 
the continuance of the bad weather should oblige us to pay out 
nearly the same amount of slack cable as hitherto. Thus far 
things looked very promising for our ultimate success. But 
former experience showed us only too plainly that we could 
never suppose that some accident might not arise until the 
ends had been fairly landed on the opposite shores. 

One of the expedition made some notes in the present- 
tense-story, which are reproduced here ' as indicative 
of the feelings indulged in about this time by those on 
board : 

The cable is the absorbing subject of conversation. We 
hardly dare ask ourselves if we shall lay the line the whole dis- 
tance it seems too much to hope for and we dread to think 
of the future. We count each day, not by hours, but by minutes. 
The sound of the machinery has become as familiar to us as 

1 A note in Bright's rough diary says : " 8 a.m., insulation reported 
better than ever." 


that of our own voices ; and when it is drowned in any other 
noise, we listen with eagerness to hear it again. The barometer 
is consulted hourly, and its variations watched with a jealous 
eye, for we can now appreciate how much depends on the weather. 
The sight of that thread-like wire battling with the wind and 
sea produces a feeling somewhat akin to that with which you 
would watch the struggles of a drowning man whom you have 
not the power to assist. There is a strong undercurrent of 
confidence, though we are still some way from the end. A kink 
in the cable, or a hole running through the gutta-percha into 
the conductor a tiny hole, such as you could not force a hair 
through would render the labour of months utterly unavailing. 
That group of sailors near the cook's galley are engaged in an 
animated discussion on the all-prevailing topic. One of the 
number is trying to persuade his messmates that it is impossible 
to lay it, but they lend him rather unwilling ears. Altogether 
the cable is getting into better repute, and specimens of it are 
more highly prized than they were before. Nothing is thought 
of during the day but the cable, and I believe two-thirds of the 
crew don't dream of anything else. Some of us are unreasonable 
enough to wish that things were still better, and that we were 
once more at home and amongst our friends in fact, that this 
terrible struggle between hope and fear were at an end. Then 
our thoughts turn to the scene of wild excitement ashore when 
it is learnt that the " impracticable enterprise " has, after all, 
succeeded that is to say, if everything continues to go well 
to the finish. 

To continue in the words of The Times correspondent : 
During Sunday night and Monday morning the weather 
remained as boisterous as ever. It was only by the most in- 
defatigable exertions of the engineer upon duty that the wheels 
could be prevented from stopping altogether as the vessel rose 
and fell with the sea ; and once or twice they did come com- 
pletely to a standstill, in spite of all that could be done to keep 
them moving. Fortunately, however, they were again set in 


motion before the stern of the ship was thrown up by the 
succeeding wave. 

During the afternoon of the latter day an American three- 
masted schooner, which afterwards proved to be the Chieftain, 
was seen standing from the eastward towards us. No notice 
was taken of her at first ; but when she was within about half 
a mile of the Agamemnon she altered her course, and bore right 
down across our bows. A collision, which might prove fatal 
to the cable, now seemed inevitable ; or could only be avoided 
by the equally hazardous expedient of altering the Agamemnon's 
course. The Valorous steamed ahead and fired a gun for her 
to heave to, which, as she did not appear to take much notice, 
was quickly followed by another from the bows of the Agamem- 
non, and a second and third from the Valorous. But still the 
vessel held on her course, and as the only resource left to avoid 
a collision, the course of the Agamemnon was altered just in 
time to pass within a few yards of her. It was evident that 
our proceedings were a source of the greatest possible astonish- 
ment to them, for all her crew crowded upon her deck and 
rigging. At length they evidently discovered who we were 
and what we were doing, for the crew manned the rigging, and 
dipping the ensign several times they gave us three hearty 
cheers. Though the Agamemnon was obliged to acknowledge 
these congratulations in due form, the feelings of annoyance 
with which we regarded the vessel which was so near adding 
a fatal and unexpected mishap to the long chapter of accidents 
which had already been encountered may easily be imagined. 
To those below who of course did not see the ship approaching 
the sound of the first gun came like a thunderbolt, for all 
took it as a signal of the breaking of the cable. The dinner 
tables were deserted in a moment, and a general rush made up 
the hatches to the deck ; but before reaching it their fears were 
quickly banished by the report of the succeeding gun, which 
all knew well could only be caused by a ship in our way or a 
man overboard. 

Throughout the greater part of the same day the electrical 


signals from the Niagara had been getting gradually weaker, 
until they ceased altogether for nearly three-quarters of an 
hour. Then Professor Thomson sent a message to the effect 
that the signals were too weak to be read, and in a little while 
the deflections returned even stronger than they had ever been 
before. Towards the evening, however, they again declined 
in force for a few minutes. 1 With the exception of these little 
stoppages, the electrical condition of the submerged wire seemed 
to be much improved. It then became known for the first 
time that the low temperature of the water at the immense 
depth improved considerably the insulating properties of the 
gutta-percha, while the enormous pressure to which it must 
have been subjected tended to consolidate its texture and to 
fill up any air bubbles or slight faults in manufacture which 
may have existed. The weather during that night moderated 
a little ; but still there was a very heavy sea on, which en- 
dangered the wire every second minute. 

About three o'clock on the following (Tuesday) morning all 
on board were startled from their beds by the loud booming 
of a gun. Every one without waiting for the performance of 
the most particular toilet rushed on deck to ascertain the 
cause of the disturbance. Contrary to all expectation, the cable 
was safe ; but just in the grey light could be seen the Valorous, 
rounded to in the most warlike attitude, firing gun after gun 
in quick succession towards a large American barque, which, 
quite unconscious of our proceedings, was standing right across 
our stern. Such loud and repeated remonstrances from a large 
steam frigate were not to be despised ; and evidently without 

1 In connection with the above, Bright's diary says : " August 2nd, 
1.40 p.m., Professor Thomson reports no regular signals from the 
Niagara for three terms of the usual ten minutes. Currents come, 
but no intelligible signals according to the arranged methods. It 
is possible they may be earth currents." 

It subsequently transpired that the trouble had been due to a 
fault in the Niagara's ward-room coil. As soon as the electricians 
discovered this, and had it cut out, all went smoothly again. 


knowing the why or the wherefore, she quickly threw her sails 
aback and remained hove to. Whether those on board her 
considered that we were engaged in some filibustering expedition 
or regarded our proceedings as another British outrage upon 
the American flag it is impossible to say ; but certain it is that 
apparently in great trepidation she remained hove to until 
we had lost sight of her in the distance. 

Tuesday was a much finer day than any we had experienced 
for nearly a week, but still there was a considerable sea running, 
and our dangers were far from passed ; yet the hopes of our 
ultimate success ran high. We had accomplished nearly the 
whole of the deep portions of the route in safety, and that, too, 
under the most unfavourable circumstances possible. There 
was, therefore, every reason to believe that unless some unfore- 
seen accident should occur, we should accomplish the remain- 
der. Observations at noon placed us in lat. 5226 / N., long. 
167 4O'W., having run 134 miles since the previous day. About 
five o'clock in the evening the steep submarine mountain which 
divides the steep telegraphic plateau from the Irish coast was 
reached ; and the sudden shallowing of the water had a very 
marked effect upon the cable, causing the strain and the speed 
to lessen every minute. A great deal of slack was paid out 1 
to allow for any greater inequalities which might exist, though 
undiscovered by the sounding line. About ten o'clock the shoal 
water of 250 fathoms was reached. The only remaining anxiety 
now was the changing from the lower main coil to that upon 
the upper deck, and this most dangerous operation was suc- 
cessfully performed between three and four o'clock on Wednesday 

Wednesday was a beautifully calm day ; indeed, it was the 
first on which any one would have thought of making a splice 
since the day we started from the rendezvous. At noon we 

1 The amount of slack paid out had already been almost ruinous. 
Luckily its continuance was not necessary, or we could scarcely 
have reached Ireland with the cable on board, 


were in lat. 52n / N., long. i24O / 2 // W., eighty-nine miles distant 
from the telegraph station at Valentia. The water was shallow, 
so that there was no difficulty in paying out the wire with hardly 
any loss by slack ; and all looked upon the undertaking as 
virtually accomplished. At about one o'clock in the evening 
the second change from the upper deck coil to that upon the 
orlop deck was safely effected, and shortly after the vessels 
exchanged signals that they were in 200 fathoms water. As 
night advanced the speed of the ship was reduced, as it was 
known that we were only a short distance from the land, and 
there would be no advantage in making it before daylight in 
the morning. At about twelve o'clock, however, the Skelligs 
Light was seen in the distance, and the Valorous steamed on ahead 
to lead us into the coast, firing rockets at intervals to direct us. 

By daylight on the morning of Thursday, the 5th, the bold 
and rocky mountains which entirely surround the wild and 
picturesque neighbourhood of Valentia rose right before us at 
a few miles' distance. Never, probably, was the sight of land 
more welcome, as it brought to a successful termination one of 
the greatest but at the same time most difficult projects 
which was ever undertaken. Had it been the dullest and most 
melancholy swamp on the face of the earth that lay before us, 
we should have found it a pleasant prospect ; but as the sun 
rose behind the estuary of Dingle Bay, tinging with a deep soft 
purple the lofty summits of the mountains which surround its 
shores, and illuminating the masses of morning vapour which 
hung upon them, it was a scene which might vie in beauty with 
anything that could be produced by the most florid imagination 
of an artist. 

No one on shore was apparently conscious of our approach, 
so the Valorous went ahead to the mouth of the harbour and 
fired a gun. Both ships made straight for Doulas Bay the 
Agamemnon steaming into the harbour with a feeling that she 
had done something and about 6 a.m. came to anchor at the 
side of Beginish Island, opposite to Valentia. As soon as the 
inhabitants became aware of our impending arrival there was 



a general desertion of the place, and hundreds of boats crowded 
round us, their passengers in the greatest state of excitement 
to hear all about our voyage. The Knight of Kerry was absent 
in Dingle, but a messenger was immediately despatched for him, 
and he soon arrived in Her Majesty's gunboat Shamrock. 

A short time after our arrival a signal was received from the 
Niagara that they were preparing to land, having paid out 
1,030 nautical miles of cable, while the Agamemnon had accom- 
plished her portion of the distance with an expenditure of 1,020 
miles, making the total length of the wire submerged 2,050 
geographical miles. Immediately after the ships cast anchor 
the paddle-box boats of the Valorous were got ready, and two 
miles of cable coiled away in them for the purpose of landing 
the end. But it was late in the afternoon before the procession 
of boats left the ship, under a salute of three rounds of small 
arms from the detachment of marines on board the Agamemnon. 

Progress was very slow, in consequence of the stiff wind which 
blew at the time ; but at about 3 p.m. the end was safely brought 
on shore at Knight's Town, Valentia, by Mr. Bright, to whose 
exertions the success of the undertaking is attributable. Mr. 
Bright was accompanied by Mr. Canning and the Knight of 
Kerry. The end was immediately laid in the trench which had 
been dug to receive it. Afterwards a royal salute making 
the neighbouring rocks and mountains reverberate announced 
that the communication between the Old and the New World 
had been completed. 

The cable was taken into the electrical room by Mr. White- 
house and attached to a galvanometer, and the first message 
was received through the entire length now lying on the bed of 
the sea. It will, in all probability, be nearly a fortnight before 
the instruments are connected at the two termini for the trans- 
mission of regular messages. 

It is unnecessary here to expatiate upon the magnitude of 
the undertaking which has just been completed, or upon the 
great political and social results which are likely to accrue from 
it ; but there cannot fail to be a feeling of universal admiration 


for the courage and perseverance which have been displayed 
by Mr. Bright, 1 and those who acted under his orders, in en- 
countering the manifold difficulties which arose on their path 
at every step. 2 

In contradistinction to the heavy seas and difficulties the 
Agamemnon had to contend with, her consort, the Niagara, 


experienced very quiet weather ; and her part of the work 

1 In the Institution of Civil Engineers' obituary notice of Charles 
Bright the following lines are of some interest in this connection : 
" The enormous amount of energy and resource required for the 
organisation and fitting out of such an expedition in those early 
days can only with difficulty be comprehended. The details of 
such an undertaking are indeed massive, and reflect the very highest 
credit on the abilities of the late Sir Charles Bright, who (on this 
occasion, as on others) showed himself to be a man of extraordinary 
energy and power, and endowed with perseverance under difficulties 
qualities which enabled him to bring this never-to-be-forgotten 
undertaking to a successful issue." 

2 The Times, Wednesday, August nth, 1858. 


was comparatively uneventful l -~ with the exception of the 
fault near the bottom of the ward-room coil, which has 
already been referred to. This was detected during the 
operations on the night of August 2nd, but was removed before 
it was paid out into the sea at a depth of two miles. About 
four o'clock the next morning the continuity and insulation 
was accordingly restored ; and, says Mullaly, " all was going 
on as if nothing had occurred to disturb the confidence we 
felt in the success of the expedition." 

A little later the same chronicler remarks : 

Confidence is growing stronger, and there is considerable 
speculation as to the time we shall reach Newfoundland. The 
pilot who is to bring us into Trinity Bay is now in great repute, 
and is becoming a more important personage every day. His 
opinion is solicited in regard to the weather, as he is supposed 
to know something about it in these latitudes. He is also par- 
ticularly catechised on the navigation of the bay and the forma- 
tion and character of the coast. We are really beginning to 
have strong hopes that his services will be called into requisition, 
and that in the course of a few days more we shall be in sight 
of land. 

Again, when nearing the end, Mullaly describes in stirring 
language the various icebergs some a hundred feet high 
which they met with. 

Shortly after entering Trinity Bay, Newfoundland, the 
Niagara was met by H.M.S. Porcupine, which had been sent 
out from England at the very beginning of the 1858 expedi- 
tion to await her approach and render any assistance that 
might be required. The Niagara anchored about i a.m on 

1 The Story of the Atlantic Cable, 


August 5th, having completed her work ; and during the 
forenoon of that day the cable was landed in a little bay, Bull 
Arm, 1 at the head of Trinity Bay, when they " received very 
strong currents of electricity through the whole cable from 
the other side of the Atlantic." 2 The telegraph house at 
the Newfoundland end was some two miles from the beach, 
and connected to the cable by a land line. 

The Celebration 

On landing at Valentia, Charles Bright at once sent the 
following welcome message to his Board, which was forth- 
with passed on to the Press : 

VALENTIA, August $th. 
Charles Bright, to the Directors of the Atlantic Telegraph Company. 

The Agamemnon has arrived at Valentia, and we are about 
to land the end of the cable. 

The Niagara is in Trinity Bay, Newfoundland. There are 
good signals between the ships. 

We reached the rendezvous on the night of the 28th, and 
the splice with the Niagara cable was made on board the Aga- 
memnon the following morning. 

By noon on the soth, 265 nautical miles were laid between 
the ships ; on the sist, 540 ; on the ist August, 884 ; on the 
2nd, 1,256 ; on the 4th, 1,854 5 on anchoring at six in the morn- 
ing, in Doulas Bay, 2,022. 

The speed of the Niagara during the whole time has been 

L This spot had been selected on account of its seclusion from 
prevailing winds, and owing to the shelter it afforded from drifting 

2 Engineer's log, U.S.N.S. Niagara. 



nearly the same as ours, the length of cable paid out from the 
two ships being generally within ten miles of each other. 

With the exception of yesterday, the weather has been very 
unfavourable. 1 


In the afternoon of Thursday, August 5th as already 
described in The Times report Charles Bright and his staff 
brought to shore the end of the cable, at White Strand 
Bay, near Knight's Town, Valentia, in the boats of the 

1 The Times, 2nd edition, August 5th, 1858. 

Some days later Charles Bright sent in his official report, setting 
forth fully the main features of the expedition. Here the maximum 
depth was shown to be 2,400 fathoms nearly 2^ statute miles 
and the average slack paid out somewhere about 17 per cent. This 
report (reproduced in The Times) was given in full as Appendix 9 
to Vol. I. of the original biography. 


Valorous, welcomed by the united cheers of the small crowd 

As soon as his work was completed, Charles Bright sent 
his wife a telegram couched in these laconic terms : 
" Atlantic cable laid. Signals received both ways." 

All England applauded the triumph of such undaunted 
perseverance, and the engineering and nautical skill displayed 
in this victory over the elements. The Atlantic Telegraph 
had been justly characterised by Professor Morse as the 
" great feat of the century," and this was re-echoed by all 
the Press on its realisation. The following extract from the 
leading article of The Times, the day after completion, is an 
example of the comments upon the achievement : 

Mr. Bright, having landed the end of the Atlantic cable at 
Valentia, has brought to a successful termination his anxious 
and difficult task of linking the Old World with the New. Since 
the discovery of Columbus, nothing has been done in any degree 
comparable to the vast enlargement which has thus been given 
to the sphere of human activity. 1 

The rejoicing in America, both in public and private, 
knew no bounds. The astounding news of the success of 
this unparalleled enterprise, after such combats with 
storm and sea, " created universal enthusiasm, exultation 
and joy, such as was, perhaps, never before produced by any 
event, not even the discovery of the Western hemisphere. 
Many had predicted its failure some from ignorance, others 

1 For the rest of this "leader" see Appendix gb to Vol. I. of 
the original biography. 


simply because they were anti-progressives by nature. 
Philanthropists everywhere hailed it as the greatest event of 
modern times, heralding the good time coming of universal 
peace and brotherhood." 

In Newfoundland, Mr. Field, with Captain Hudson, of 
the Niagara, Captain Dayman, of H.M.S. Gorgon, and 
Commander H. C. Otter, of H.M.S. Porcupine, together with 
Mr. Bright's assistant engineers, Messrs. Everett and Wood- 
house, and the electricians, Messrs, de Sauty and Laws, 
received the heartiest congratulations and welcome from the 
Governor and Legislative Council of the Colony. Whilst 
acknowledging these congratulations, Mr. Field remarked : 
" We have had many difficulties to surmount, many dis- 
couragements to bear, and some enemies to overcome, whose 
very opposition has stimulated us to greater exertion." 

It was a curious coincidence that the cable was suc- 
cessfully completed to Valentia on the same day, in 
1858, on which the shore end had been landed the year 
before. 1 

Charles Bright, with Messrs. Canning and Clifford, and 
the rest of the staff including Professor Thomson, and 
the other electricians were absolutely exhausted with the 

1 Moreover, it was exactly one hundred and eleven years to a day 
since Dr. (later Sir William) Watson had astonished the scientific 
world by sending an electric current through a wire two miles long, 
using the earth as a return circuit. 

It is also worthy of note that the first recorded feat of telegraphy 
was executed by order of King Agamemnon to his queen, announcing 
the fall of Troy, 1084, years before the birth of Christ, and that 
the great feat which we have narrated was carried out by the great 
ship Agamemnon, as we have here shown. 


incessant watching, apart from the anxiety that attended 
their arduous work. Valentia proved a haven of rest for 
these " toilers of the deep." 

But a series of banquets had to be faced. 

Soon after his duties at Valentia were over, Bright made 
his way to Dublin. Here he was entertained by the Lord 
Mayor and civic authorities of that capital on Wednesday, 
September ist. On this occasion Cardinal Wiseman, who 
was present, made an eloquent speech ; and the following 
account of the proceedings (from the Morning Post) may 
be suitably quoted : 

The banquet given on Wednesday, the ist, by the Lord Mayor 
of Dublin, to Mr. C. T. Bright, engineer-in-chief to the Atlantic 
Telegraph Company, was a great success. The assemblage em- 
braced the highest names in the metropolis civil, military, and 
official. Cardinal Wiseman was present in full cardinalite 

The Lord Mayor, in proposing the toast of the evening, " The 
health of Mr. Bright," dwelt with much eloquence on the achieve- 
ments of science, and paid a marked and merited compliment 
to the genius and perseverance which, in the face of discourage- 
ment from the scientific world, had succeeded in bringing about 
their great accomplishment, the laying of the Atlantic telegraph. 
His lordship's speech was most complimentary to the distin- 
guished guest, Mr. C. T. Bright. 

Mr. Bright rose, amidst loud cheers, to respond. He thanked 
the assemblage for their hearty welcome, and said he was deeply 
sensible of the honour. He next commented upon the value 
of this means of communication for the prevention of misunder- 
standing between the Governments of the Great Powers, and 
then referred to the services of the gentlemen who had been 
associated with him in laying the cable, with whom he desired 


to share the honours done him that night. (Mr. Bright was 
warmly cheered throughout his eloquent speech.) 

Mr. Bright then proposed the health of Mr. Cyrus Field, 
acknowledging in warm terms the services of this gentleman 
in the great project. 

Referring next day, in a letter to his wife, to these pro- 
ceedings, Bright said : 

The Cardinal came in tremendous costume, just like Kean 
in Henry VIII, with a large jewelled cross round his neck, and 
an immense sparkling ring of office on his white hand, which 
contrasted strongly with his red face and dress. However, I 
found him a very pleasant man, full of scientific knowledge 
and interest in the Atlantic line. He pressed me to come to 
see him in London. 

I hope you thought my speech a good one ! I was glad to 
have a public opportunity of shaming the " Yankees " by pro- 
posing Cyrus Field's health. 

Charles Bright was honoured with knighthood within 
a few days of his landing. 

As this was considered a special occasion apart from 
ordinary periodic honours and as the Queen was at that 
time on her famous and important visit to the Empress of 
the French at Cherbourg, it was arranged that the cere- 
mony should be performed there and then, at Dublin, by 
His Excellency the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (the Earl of 
Eglinton), in Her Majesty's name. x 

With reference to this, Bright wrote to his wife the 
day before : 

1 The following spring Charles Bright was duly " presented " 
at Court (by Lord Eglinton), in connection with his knighthood. 



The Lord Lieutenant having expressed a wish to see me, I 
had an interview with him this morning. He intimated his de- 
sire to confer upon me on behalf of Her Majesty the honour 
of knighthood, which ceremony is to be performed to-morrow, 
after which I dine with him to meet a large party of the noble 
folks of the land, and then I shall be glad to get home and have 
a little quiet with "Lady Bright." 

Bright was but twenty-six years of age at the time, 
being the youngest man who had received the distinction 
for generations past and no similar instance has occurred 
since. It was, moreover, the first title conferred on the 
telegraphic profession, and remained so for some years. 

With Professor Thomson and other colleagues Sir Charles 
was light royally entertained in Dublin, Killarney, and 
elsewhere, the Lord Lieutenant taking a prominent part in 
the celebrations. * Indeed, in Ireland generally, where 
he had been previously known for years as the engineer of 
the " Magnetic " Company whose wires he had extended 
throughout the length and breadth of the Emerald Isle 
warm greetings were unbounded. 

A few days later, on the occasion of the grand banquet 
given in his honour at Killarney by the nobility and gentry 
of Kerry, His Excellency the Lord Lieutenant, after some 
prefatory remarks, thus referred to him and the cable 2 : 

1 It was just previous to one of these at the Vice-Regal Lodge 
that opportunity was taken to perform the ceremony of " knighting " 
Bright. At the dinner afterwards he sat next to the then Duchess 
of Manchester, who reminded him that an ancestor of his had married 
Lady Lucy Montagu one of the Duke's family of previous days. 

2 Daily News, August 2oth, 1858. 


When we consider the extraordinary undertaking that has 
been accomplished within the last few weeks ; when we consider 
that a cable of about 2,000 miles has been extended beneath 
the ocean a length which, if multiplied ten times, would reach 
our farthest colonies and nearly surround the earth ; when we 
consider it is stretched along the bed of shingles and shells, 
which appeared destined for it as a foundation by Providence, 
and stretching from the points which human enterprises would 
look to ; and when we consider the great results that will 
flow from this great work, we are at a loss how sufficiently to 
admire the genius and energy of those who planned it, or how 
to be sufficiently thankful to the Almighty for having delegated 
such a power to the human race, for whose benefit it is to be 
put in force. (Cheers.) And let us look at the career which 
this telegraph has passed since it was originally discovered. 
At first, it was rapidly laid over the land, uniting states, com- 
munities and countries, extending over hills and valleys, roads 
and railways ; but the sea appeared to present an impenetrable 
barrier. It could not stop here, however ; submarine tele- 
graphy was but a question of time, and the first enterprise by 
which it was introduced was in connection with an old foe and 
at present our best friend Imperial France. (Hear, hear.) 
The next attempt which was successful was the junction of Eng- 
land and our island, which was carried out by the same dis- 
tinguished engineer whose name is now in the mouth of every 
man. (Hear, hear.) Other submarine attempts followed : 
the telegraph paused before the great Atlantic, like another 
Alexander, weeping as if it had no more worlds to conquer ; 
but it has found another world, and it has gained it not bringing 
strife or conquest, but carrying with it peace and goodwill. 
(Applause.) I feel I should be wanting if I did not allude in 
terms of admiration to the genius and skill of the engineer, 
Sir Charles Bright, who has carried out this project and 
brought it to a successful termination. (Applause.) It is 
not necessary, I am certain, to call attention to the diligence and 
attention shown by the crew of the Agamemnon (cheers) 


because.! am sure there is no one here who has not read the 
description of the voyage in the newspapers. The zeal, courage 
and enterprise exhibited were only to be equalled by the skill 
with which it was carried out. I believe there was only a differ- 
ence of twelve miles between the two ends of the cable when 
it came to the shore. There are some questions with regard 
to the date at which the work was effected, to which I wish to 
call attention. It was on the 5th August, 1857, that this enterprise 
was first commenced under the auspices of my distinguished 
predecessor, who I wish was here now to rejoice in its success 
I mean only in a private capacity. (Cheers and laughter.) It was 
on the 5th August, 1858, it was completed, and it was on the 5th 
August, more than 300 years ago, that Columbus left the shores of 
Spain to proceed on his ever-memorable voyage to America. 
It was on the 5th August, 1583, that Sir Hugh Gilbert, a worthy 
countryman of Raleigh and Drake, steered his good ship the 
Squirrel to the shores of Newfoundland, and first unfurled the 
flag of England in the very bay where this triumph has now 
taken place (applause) and it was on the same 5th of August 
that your Sovereign was received by her imperial friend amidst 
the fortifications of Cherbourg, arid thereby put an end to the 
ridiculous nonsense about strife and dissension. (Applause.) 
Let the 5th August be a day ever memorable among nations. Let 
it be, if I may so term it, the birthday of England. (Applause.) 
Among the many points which must have given every one 
satisfaction, was the manner in which this great success was 
received in America. (Hear, hear.) There appears to have been 
but one feeling of rejoicing predominant amongst them ; and 
I cannot but think that that was not only owing to their commer- 
cial enterprise which they shared along with us but also 
to the feelings of consanguinity and affection which I am sure 
we share, though occasionally disturbed by international dis- 
putes, and by differences caused by misrepresentations or hasti- 
ness. It must still burn as brightly in their breasts as in ours. 
(Applause.) I trust that, not only with our friends across the 
Atlantic, but with every civilised nation, this great triumph 


of science will prove the harbinger of peace, goodwill, and friend- 
ship ; and that England and America will not verify the first 
line of the stanza 

Lands intersected by a narrow firth 
Abhor each other, 

but that they will, by mutual intercourse, arrive at the last line 
of that stanza, and, " like kindred drops, be mingled into one." 
(Warm applause.) 

After the various functions in Ireland celebrating the lay- 
ing of the cable had been exhausted, Bright was glad to 
have the opportunity of returning to his family at Harrow 
Weald, for the first time since the successful completion 
of the work. 

The Working of the Line 

As previously shown, two descriptions of instruments 
were used on board the ships for testing and working 
through whilst laying the cable. These were the detector 
of Mr. Whitehouse and Professor Thomson's reflecting 
apparatus. The process of testing consisted in sending 
from one to the other vessel alternately, during a period 
of ten minutes, first, a " reversal " every minute for five 
minutes, 1 and then a current in one direction for five minutes. 
The results were observed and recorded on board both ships. 
There was also a special signal for each ten miles of cable 
paid out between the vessels. 

When the splice was made on the 2Qth July, 72 deflec- 

1 This is usually described as a current first in one direction, and 
then in another, though, perhaps, not strictly accurate, technically. 


tions were obtained on the Agamemnon from seventy-five 
cells of a sawdust Daniell's battery on board the Niagara, 
which had given 83 on entry. On arrival at Valentia 
at 6.30 a.m. on August 5th, the deflection on the same 
instruments (detector and marine galvanometer being 
both in circuit as before) was 68 ; while the sending battery 
power on the Niagara had fallen off at entry to 62^ 
through the marine galvanometer on board that vessel. 

The figures quoted show that, taking into account the 
certain diminution in electro-motive force of the " sawdust " 
battery employed, the cable had considerably improved 
by submersion, the insulation being even greater than 
that recorded before laying, when the cable was reported 
as perfect. 

When Charles Bright and his staff had accomplished 
their part of the undertaking on August 5th, the cable was 
handed over to Mr. Whitehouse, the electrician of the 
Company, and his assistants. It was then reported to be in 
perfect condition. 1 Mr. Whitehouse, however, after taking 
charge of the line, found difficulty in working it with his 
special induction apparatus, 2 but appears to have made 
no report to the Board for some time. No information 
arrived at headquarters except some telegrams stating that 
signals were highly satisfactory, and that the adjustment of 
instruments was progressing. 3 More than a week passed, 

1 The Story of the Atlantic Cable. 

2 Besides being fully described in the pages of The Engineer 
at the time, some of Mr. Whitehouse's apparatus may now be seen 
at Messrs. Elliott Brothers, the famous instrument makers. 

3 The Transatlantic Submarine Telegraph, p. 33, by George Saward, 
Secretary to the Atlantic Telegraph Company. 


during which Mr. Whitehouse continued his ineffectual 
efforts to work with the induction apparatus ; and then 
Professor Thomson's reflecting galvanometer that had 
worked so well during the voyage was again inserted, 
with ordinary Daniell cells, in the circuit. 

Thus, communication was resumed, the first clear message 
being received from Newfoundland on August 13th, 
1858, and on the i6th the following message was got through 
from the directors in England to the directors in America x : 

Europe and America are united by telegraph. " Glory to 
God in the highest, on earth peace, good-will toward men." 2 

Then followed : 

From Her Majesty the Queen of Great Britain to His Excellency 

the President of the United States. 

The Queen desires to congratulate the President upon the 
successful completion of this great international work, in which 
the Queen has taken the greatest interest. 

1 There had been a considerable delay in getting the apparatus 
ready at Newfoundland ; and, unfortunately, they adhered to alter- 
nating electro-magnetic apparatus there, in conjunction with a 
relay. The result was that supreme difficulty was experienced 
throughout in working the line this way. On the other hand, at 
Valentia they once reported : " We are now receiving from New- 
foundland accurately, at the rate of 100 words per hour." Indeed, 
nearly all the really successful working was effected by the Thomson 
" marine galvanometer," at a speed up to five words per minute, 
as compared with 1-75 per minute with the other apparatus. 

2 With reference to this and some of the following cablegrams, 
Sir D. Brewster wrote (in the Edinburgh Review) at the time : "It 
is impossible to read, without emotion, these messages which breathe 
from the earliest to the latest the ardent wish that peace and 
good will should reign between hitherto unfriendly nations, born of 
the same blood, speaking the same tongue, and rejoicing in the same 


The Queen is convinced that the President will join with 
her in fervently hoping that the electric cable, which now 
already connects Great Britain with the United States, will 
prove an additional link between the two nations, whose 
friendship is founded upon their common interest and recipro- 
cal esteem. 

The Queen has much pleasure in thus directly communicating 
with the President, and in renewing to him her best wishes 
for the prosperity of the United States. 

The message was shortly afterwards responded to as 
follows : 


The President of the United States to Her Majesty Victoria, Queen 
of Great Britain. 

The President cordially reciprocates the congratulations of 
Her Majesty the Queen on the success of the great international 
enterprise accomplished by the skill, science, and indomitable 
energy of the two countries. 

It is a triumph more glorious, because far more useful to 
mankind, than was ever won by a conqueror on the field of 

May the Atlantic Telegraph, under the blessing of Heaven, 
prove to be a bond of perpetual peace and friendship between 
the kindred nations, and an instrument destined by Divine 
Providence to diffuse religion, civilisation, liberty, and law 
throughout the world ! 

In this view will not all the nations of Christendom spon- 
taneously unite in the declaration that it shall be for ever neutral, 
and that its communications shall be held sacred in passing to 
the place of their destination, even in the midst of hostilities ? 


Throughout the United States the arrival of the Queen's 


message was the signal for a fresh outburst of popular en- 
thusiasm. 1 

Mr. Henry Field wrote in his description : 
The next morning, August lyth, the city of New York was 
awakened by the thunder of artillery. A hundred guns were 
fired in the City Hall Park at daybreak, and the salute was 
repeated at noon. At this hour flags were flying from all the 
public buildings, and the bells of the principal churches began 
to ring, as Christmas bells signal the birthday of One Who 
came to bring peace and good-will to men chimes that, it was 
fondly hoped, might usher in, as they should, a new era. 

Ring out the old, ring in the new, 
Ring out the false, ring in the true. 

That night the city was illuminated. Never had it seen so 
brilliant a spectacle. Such was the blaze of light around the 
City Hall that the cupola caught fire and was consumed, and the 
Hall itself narrowly escaped destruction. But one night did 
not exhaust the public enthusiasm, for the following evening 
witnessed one of those displays for which New York surpasses 
all the cities of the world a fireman's torchlight procession. 
Moreover, several wagon-loads (each containing about twelve 
miles) of the cable left on board the Niagara were drawn through 
the principal streets of the city. 

Similar demonstrations took place in other parts of the United 

1 Whoever shall write the history of popular enthusiasm must 
give a large space to the way in which the advent of Atlantic tele- 
graphy was received in the United States. Never did the tidings 
of any great achievement whether of peace or war more truly 
electrify a nation. In New York, the news was received at first with 
incredulity. No doubt the impression was greater, because it took 
every one completely by surprise. This undertaking had been 
looked upon as hopeless. Its projectors had shared the usual lot 
of those who conceive vast designs and venture on great enterprises, 
and their labours had been watched with mixed feelings of derision 
and pity. 


States. From the Atlantic to the valley of the Mississippi, 
and to the Gulf of Mexico, in every city was heard the firing 
of guns and the ringing of bells. Nothing seemed too extrava- 
gant to give expression to the popular rejoicing. 

The English Press were warm in their recognition of 
those to whom the nation were " indebted for bringing into 
action the greatest invention of the age," 1 and expressed 
their full belief that " the effect of bringing the Three 
Kingdoms and the United States into instantaneous 
communication with each other will be to render hostilities 
between the two nations almost impossible for the future." 

And again : " More was done yesterday for the con- 
solidation of our Empire than the wisdom of our statesmen, 
the liberality of our Legislature, or the loyalty of our 
Colonists could ever have effected." 

The sermons preached on the subject, both in England 
and America, were literally without number. Enough 
found their way into print to fill several large volumes. 
Never, indeed, had an event more deeply touched the 
spirit of religious enthusiasm. 

With further reference to the active life of the cable, 
the following communications have some interest : 

Three long congratulatory messages were transmitted : 
One on August i8th, from Mr. Peter Cooper, President 
of the New York, Newfoundland, and London Telegraph 
Company, to the Directors of the Atlantic Telegraph 
Company ; another, from the Mayor of New York to the 
Lord Mayor of London, his reply in acknowledgment 

1 The Times, August 6th, 1858. 



Two of the great Cunard mail steamers, the Europa 
and Arabia, came into collision on August I4th, while on 
their outward and homeward voyages. Neither the news 
nor the injured vessels could reach those concerned on both 
sides of the Atlantic for some days ; but as soon as it became 
known in New York, a message was sent by the cable : 

Arabia in collision with Europa, Cape Race, Saturday. Arabia 



Received per the Atlantic Telegraph Company. 

Message, this /Y day of 

18 J+ 


on her way. Head slightly injured. Europa lost bowsprit, 
cutwater stem sprung. Will remain in St. John's ten days from 
i6th. Persia calls at St. John's for mails and passengers. No 
loss of life or limb. 


This first public news message showed the relief given 
by speedy knowledge in dispelling doubt and fear. Subse- 
quently, messages giving the news on both Continents 
were transmitted, and published daily. 

Further, as exemplifying the aid the cable afforded to 
our Government, we may mention two messages sent from 
the Commander-in-Chief, at the Horse Guards, on August 
3ist owing to the quelling of the Indian Mutiny cancel- 
ling orders sent by mail to Canada, thus : 

The first, to General Trollope, Halifax, ran as follows : 
" The 62nd Regiment is not to return to England." The 
other, to the officer in command at Montreal, ran thus : 
" The 3Qth Regiment is not to return to England." 

From 50,000 to 60,000 was estimated by the authori- 
ties to have been saved in the unnecessary transportation 
of the troops by these two cable communications, which 
were delivered the same day that they were sent. 

But the insulation of the precious wire had, unhappily, 
been giving way ; and the diminished flashes of light 
proved to be only the flickering of the flame that was 
soon to be extinguished in the eternal darkness of the 
waters. After a period of confused signals, the line 
ultimately breathed its last on October 20th, after 732 mes- 
sages in all had been conveyed during a period of three 
months. The last word which the line uttered and which 
may be said to have come beyond the sea was " For- 
ward ! " The very day that the whole of New York rose 
up to do honour to the Atlantic Telegraph when the 
roar of guns, the chiming of bells in the sacred spires, and 


the shouts of joy throughout the land might be heard 
o'er hill and dale, and when even London was about to 
do it honour the throbs of this almost living thing were 
becoming visibly weaker, and fears began to prevail 
that it would shortly sleep for ever silent in its ocean 

The line had been subject to frequent interruption through- 
out. The wonder is that it did so much, when we consider 
the lack of experience at that period in the initial manufac- 
ture of deep-sea cables, the short time allowed, and the 
treatment the line received after being laid. 1 

An unusually violent lightning storm occurred at New- 
foundland shortly after the cable had been laid. This was 
spoken of as a possible part cause of the gradual failure of 
the line ; also a supposed " factory fault," masked 
by the tar in the hemp. There were, however, those who 
hinted at foul play. It was certainly singular that the 
cable should continue to work for several weeks and 
only show definite signs of sickness on the very day of 
the celebration in New York ! 

When all the efforts of the electricians failed to draw more 
than a few faint whispers a dying gasp from the depths 
of the sea there ensued, in the public mind, a feeling of 

1 It is extremely doubtful whether any cable, even of the present 
day, would long stand a trial with currents so generated and of such 

In his work on the " Electric Telegraph " (p.34)> the late Mr * Robert 
Sabine said : " At the date of the first Atlantic cable the engineering 
department was far ahead of the electrical. The cable was success- 
fully laid mechanically good, but electrically bad." 


profound discouragement. And, then, as regards those 
officially concerned in the enterprise. What a bitter dis- 
appointment ! Imagine Charles Bright's state of mind after 
all he had gone through, and after he had ultimately accom- 
plished his part of the undertaking with complete success. 
In all the experience of life there are no sadder moments 
than those in which, after years of anxious toil, striving for 
a great object, and after a glorious triumph, the achieve- 
ment that seemed complete becomes a wreck ! 

Still, young Bright had the satisfaction of knowing that 
he had (i) demonstrated the possibility of laying over 
2,000 miles 1 of cable in one continuous length across the 
Atlantic Ocean at depths of two to three miles 2 ; and (2) 
that by means of an electric current, distinct and regular 
signals could be transmitted and received through an insu- 
lated conductor even when at such a depth beneath the 
sea across this vast distance. 3 

1 This was a length six times greater than had ever been previ- 
ously laid, and at an average depth far in excess of anything before. 

2 He had also proved, amongst other things, that a ship could be 
hove to in deep water with a cable hanging on without the latter 

3 In his Presidential Address to the Institution of Electrical 
Engineers, in 1889, the late Lord Kelvin (then Sir William Thomson) 
said, in regard to the above work 

" The first Atlantic Cable gave me the happiness and privilege of meet- 
ing and working with the late Sir Charles Bright. He was the engineer 
of this great undertaking full of vigour, full of enthusiasm. We were 
shipmates on the Agamemnon on the ever memorable expedition of 1858, 
during which we were out of sight of land for thirty-three days. 
To Sir C. Bright's vigour, earnestness, and enthusiasm was due the suc- 
cessful laying of the cable. We must always feel deeply indebted to our 
late colleague as the pioneer in that great work, when other engineers 
would not look at it, and thought it absolutely impracticable." 


Of course the gutta-percha coverings, as then applied in 
those early stages of submarine work, 1 cannot in any way 
be compared to the continual progress made in insulating 
methods and materials during the many years that have 
since elapsed. 2 But in 1856-57 the Atlantic Cable in- 
sulation was a great advance upon that applied to the wires 
of previous cables ; moreover, the conductor was a strand 
of copper, and much larger than anything before adopted. 

It was to be regretted that owing to the precipitate orders 
given by the provisional committee of the subscribers to 
the memorandum of association of the Company before 
even the Board had been formed, or Charles Bright appointed 
engineer that his specification of a conductor nearly four 
times larger had not been worked to. 3 Bright's specification 
had it been acted on would have given six times the insu- 
lation, and more than treble the conductivity. Under such 
conditions it is highly improbable that strong currents would 
have been applied for the working of the line. Unhappily 
Professor Morse had, as we have seen, promulgated an 
opinion directly opposed to Charles Bright's practical 

1 It was thought by some that the gutta-percha had let the water 
percolate in at the seams, and also that weak joints contributed to 
the ultimate failure of the line. 

2 Submarine Telegraphs. 

3 As previously stated, this heavier type of core was subsequently 
recommended to Government by Sir C. Bright, in 1860, for the Fal- 
mouth-Gibraltar cable, eventually used to connect Malta and 
Alexandria. It was also specified by Bright for the Second and 
Third Atlantic Cables of 1865 and 1866, and duly adopted, as may 
be seen further on. 


Professor Morse's views ran thus : 

That by the use of comparatively small-coated wires, and of 
electro-magnetic induction coils for the exciting magnets, tele- 
graphic signals can be transmitted through two thousand miles, 
with a speed amply sufficient for all commercial and economical 
purposes. 1 

A similarly incorrect theory was adopted even by Fara- 
day (the greatest electrical scientist of the day), who, in 
a discussion on the proposed Atlantic Cable at the Institu- 
tion of Civil Engineers, stated " that the larger the jar, or 
the larger the wire, the more electricity was required to 
charge it ; and the greater was the retardation of that electric 
impulse, which should be occupied in sending the charge 
forward," 2 thereby entirely disregarding the factor of con- 
ductor resistance. The Company were completely misled 
by this and by similar views entertained by Mr. White- 
house. And so to a cable of comparatively small carrying 
power and poor insulation was set the task of withstanding 
electric currents of an intensity that would ruin any line 
ever laid, even now fifty years later ! 

The cable, inadequately equipped as it was, would 
probably have worked though slowly, of course for 
years, had the battery power been limited to that which had 
been previously employed on the ships during the laying 
operations, in connection with Professor Thomson's highly 
sensitive mirror apparatus. Mr. Whitehouse, however, 

1 Report by Professor S. F. B. Morse, LL.D., to the Provisional 
Committee of the Atlantic Telegraph Company. 

2 Professor Michael Faraday in Proceedings of Inst. C.E., vol. 
xvi., p. 221. 


connected his battery to fearfully intense induction coils in 
order to work his specially devised relay and Morse electro- 
magnetic recording instruments at the further end of the 
line. Moreover, finding difficulty in getting his appliances 
to act properly, he appears to have increased the power 
from time to time, up to nearly 500 cells of a very potent 
type during the first week of working, till the induction 
coils about five feet long yielded electricity that was esti- 
mated by the experts (who sat at a sort of coroner's inquest 
on the unhappy cable) to have an intensity of about 2,000 
volts ! * 

Hence, when signalling was resumed by the com- 
paratively mild voltaic currents, actuating Professor 
Thomson's instrument, a fault (or faults) had been already 
developed, necessitating a far higher battery power than 
had been employed during the continuous communication 
between the ships whilst paying out. The wounds opened 
further under the various stimulating doses ; the insula- 
tion was unable to bear the electrical strain ; and the circu- 
lation gradually ceased through a cable already in a state 
of dissolution. 

1 The Story of the Atlantic Cable. 



The Inquest 

The great historical sea line having collapsed, some of 
the foremost of the electrical profession were called in to 
aid, first in determining the nature of the interruption, with 
a view to remedies if practicable ; then to elicit the cause. 
Mr. C. F. Varley, 1 the electrician of the Electric Telegraph 
Company ; Mr. E. B. Bright, Manager to the Magnetic 
Company ; and Mr. W. T. Henley, the well-known tele- 
graph inventor, were severally requested by the "Atlantic" 
Company to examine and report in conjunction with Sir 
Charles Bright and Professor Thomson. 

Resistance coils and apparatus for ascertaining the posi- 
tion of the fault, patented by the Messrs. Bright in 1852 
as referred to in Chapter III were employed, the result 
being that a serious leakage of electricity was indicated 
at a distance of about 300 miles from Valentia. There was 
clearly no fracture of the conductor, for excessively weak 
currents still came through in a fitful sort of way. Accord- 
ing to the above location, the main leak through the gutta- 
percha envelope was in water of a depth of about two miles. 
At that time means had not been devised for grappling 
and lifting a cable from such depths. 

As the result of tests made independently by Charles 
Bright and Professor Thomson, it seemed likely that the 

1 About this time, Mr. Varley became electrician to the Atlantic 
Company in succession to Mr. Whitehouse, who had retired, 
whilst Professor Thomson still remained scientific adviser to the 
Board of Directors. 


Valentia shore end was especially faulty. Accordingly, it 
was under-run from the catamaran raft, previously used in 
1857, f r some three miles ; but on being cut at the furthest 
point at which it was found possible to raise the cable, the 
fault still appeared on the seaward side. The idea of 
repairs had, therefore, to be abandoned, and the cable was 
again spliced up. 

The line being once more intact, efforts were made to 
renew signals by means of a large and improved magnetic 
telegraph devised by Mr. Henley, as w 7 ell as by curb keys 
recently invented by the Brights. With the latter, cur- 
rents of opposite character, and of given lengths, were 
transmitted, so that each signalling current was followed 
instantly by one of opposite polarity, which neutralised 
all that remained of its predecessor. The road was thus 
cleared for the succeeding signal. 

All efforts, however, proved unavailing ; for signalling 
purposes the poor cable was defunct. 

Having dealt with the nature of the interruption, we 
now come to the cause. It is first of all abundantly clear 
from the station diaries kept by the electricians at Valentia 
and Newfoundland as well as by other irrefutable evidence- 
that when the laying was completed, and the cable ends 
were handed over to them from the ships on August 5th, 
all was in good working order. 

Thus :- 

" On the landing of the cable at Newfoundland some of them 
' tasted ' the current, and received a pretty strong shock, so 
strong that they willingly resigned the chance of repeating the 


experiment." On the same day, August 5th, Mr. Field telegraphed 
to the New York Associated Press : " The electrical signals 
sent through the whole cable are perfect." The station diary 
records the same. Again, on August 8th, the entry runs : " Good 
signals being received through the cable." On the gth, Mr. de 
Sauty, the electrician, reports : " Receiving good, recorded 
signals from Valentia. Perfectly satisfactory." 

So much for the American end. On this side it was stated 
in the papers on August 5th, " good signals passing to and fro." 
Mr. Whitehouse, the chief electrician, reports on the 6th : 
" Electric communication is maintained perfectly." 7th: ''The 
currents from Newfoundland are good, giving deflections of 60 
on either side of the galvanometer, according as a positive or 
negative current is transmitted. ' ' On August ioth, Mr. Whitehouse 
telegraphed, " rate of transmission fully equals that obtained at 
Keyham, and the line works as well as it did before it was laid." 1 

With reference to the electrical working during laying 
operations, Mr. Whitehouse stated in his evidence before 
the Government Commission appointed in 1861 to enquire 
into the construction of submarine cables : " The signals 
were very strong : they made the relay speak out loud, so 
that you could hear it across the room. The battery power 
employed at the time at Newfoundland was seven twelve- 
cell sawdust batteries." 

On board the ships during the submersion, only moderate 
charges of electricity were employed for signalling some 
seventy cells of a very ordinary, and weak, form of voltaic 
battery. The use of these was continued at Valentia after 
landing, and worked the cable perfectly, though of course 
slowly compared with overhead land wires. 

All the eminent electricians examined before the pre- 

1 The Story of the Atlantic Cable. 


viously mentioned Parliamentary Committee were unani- 
mous on this point 1 : Mr. Cromwell Varley, F.R.S., de- 
clared his belief " that had a more moderate power been 
used, the cable would still have been capable of transmitting 
messages," and that " its faulty condition was no doubt due 
to the employment of large induction coils." Mr. J. W. 
Brett (a Director) stated that " the Board had clear evidence 
that the cable sustained injury by the use of very great 
power." Mr. Glass " was persuaded that the intense 
currents were finally the cause of the signals ceasing." 
Professor Hughes, the inventor of the well-known type- 
printing telegraph, declared that " the cable was injured 
by the induction coils, and that the intense currents de- 
veloped by them were strong enough to burst through 

A member of the committee afterwards inquired whether 
it was the fact that those who had the misfortune to touch 
the cable at the time when the current was discharged from 
the induction coil received so severe a shock from it that they 
nearly fainted. It was admitted in reply, " that those who 
touched the bare wire would suffer for their carelessness, 
though not, if discretion were exercised, in grasping the 
gutta-percha only." 

Professor Wheatstone expressed his opinion at the 
inquiry in question : " That the force of the induction 
coils must have been enormously greater than that of a 
battery of 400 elements, such as we subsequently employed 
at Valentia in the later signalling efforts." Further evidence 
was given to the same effect by other experts, and the 

1 " Joint Commission on Submarine Telegraph Cables." 


Right Hon. J. Stuart-Wortley, M.P., the then Chairman of 
the Atlantic Company, in a deputation to Lord Palmers- 
ton in March, 1862, stated that " far too high charges of 
electricity were forced into the conductor. It was evidently 
thought at that time by certain electricians that you could 
not charge a cable of this sort too highly. Thus, they 
proceeded somewhat like the man who bores a hole with 
a poker in a deal board : he gets the hole, to be sure, but 
the board is burnt in the operation." 

Professor Thomson (afterwards Lord Kelvin), writing in 
1860, expressed the following opinion anent the use of 
excessive power : 

The induction coils were superseded by Daniell's battery 
at Valentia after a few days' trial, though the rapidly failing 
line had seemed to prove them incapable of giving intelligible 
signals to the Newfoundland Station. Owing to the immediate 
introduction and continued use of my mirror galvanometer 
as a receiving instrument at Valentia, the signals from New- 
foundland were sufficient during the three weeks of successful 
working of the cable. It is quite certain that, with a pro- 
perly-adjusted mirror galvanometer at each end, twenty cells 
of Daniell's battery would have done the work required ; and 
the writer has little doubt that if no induction coils and no bat- 
tery power exceeding the above had ever been applied to the 
cable since the landing of its ends, it would be now in full work 
day and night, with no prospect, or probability, of failure. 1 

Summing up the cause of the catastrophe to the ill-used 
cable, it may be said (in engineering parlance) that " high- 
pressure steam had been got up in a low-pressure boiler." 

1 The Encyclopedia Britannica, 8th Edition, 1860. Article on 
" The Electric Telegraph," by Professor W. Thomson, F.R.S. 


Other Routes 

It soon became evident that no fresh venture would 
take practical shape for several years. Seeing this, Sir 
Charles devoted himself to his other professional work 
connected with the Magnetic Telegraph Company, and 
subsequently to the accomplishment of further cable enter- 
prises, of which the first line to India was the chief. This 
as will be seen subsequently was superintended and 
laid by him, for Government, in 1864. 

It was not, however, as it turned out, long before he 
became interested in another big Atlantic project. The 
failure of the first line after a short period- of working, 
and the slow rate at which messages were capable of being 
passed through its conductor, naturally deterred capitalists 
from providing the means for another line of such length, 
in deep water. 

But there was an alternative route between this country 
and America, by which the transmission of the electric 
current could be sub-divided into four comparatively 
short circuits : namely from the extreme north of Scotland 
to the Faroe Islands, thence to Iceland, from there to the 
southern point of Greenland, and so to Labrador or New- 
foundland. Although this route looks much longer on the 
map, it is not really so ; and the earth's curvature is less 
in those northern regions than between Ireland and New- 
foundland. The distances varying a little according to 
landing-places selected were approximately : 


From the North of Scotland to Faroe Islands . 225 

,, the Faroe Islands to Iceland . . 280 

Iceland to Greenland, S.W. Harbour . 700 

,, Greenland to Labrador . . . 550 

Total 1,755 

From the electrician's point of view, these sub-divisions 
were extremely favourable, as compared with the great 
continuous length entailed by an Atlantic cable between 
Ireland and Newfoundland. Then again, the soundings, 
except for a section between Greenland and Labrador, did 
not yield anything approaching the more southern depths. 

But against these palpable advantages there was the 
engineering objection which at first seemed insurmountable 
that the Greenland coast was bound up by ice for a 
considerable part of the year, in addition to the risk of 
injury to the cable from the grounding icebergs. There 
was also the probable difficulty of obtaining a trained 
staff to work a line when laid to such inhospitable regions. 
Having regard, however, to the anxiety exhibited by many 
to get to the North Pole, and to remain for years in the 
coldest Arctic regions, this did not present an insuperable 

This bold project with a route across the coldest and 
iciest regions of the Atlantic had been originally brought 
to the notice of the Danish Government by Mr. Wyld, 
the geographer, even before the Atlantic Telegraph Com- 
pany had been established. It was reintroduced in a 
different form by Colonel T. P. Shaffner, an American 
electrician of some note. Colonel Shaffner, who had been 


a pioneer of telegraphs in the Western States, published 
his opinion early in 1855 against so long a circuit as the 
direct Atlantic line in the following words : " I do not 
say that a galvanic, or magnetic, electrical current can 
never be sent from Newfoundland to Ireland ; but I do 
say that, with the present discoveries of science, I do not 
believe it practicable for telegraphic service." 1 In this, 
of course, he proved to be . mistaken ; nevertheless, he 
made a strong case for the series of short stages geographi- 
cally afforded by the North Atlantic deviation. After the 
1858 cable had ceased working, to back up his belief in the 
advantages of the route which he characterised as having 
" natural stepping-stones which Providence had placed 
across the ocean in the North " he actually chartered 
a small sailing vessel ; and, with his family on board, put 
forth from Boston on August 2Qth, 1859, f r tne purpose 
of making the preliminary survey. He landed at Glasgow in 
November of that year ; and there and then presented to 
the public the results of an arduous journey which so few 
had gone through up to that time. 

On the voyage Colonel Shaffner sounded the deep seas 
to be traversed between Labrador and Greenland, and 
between Greenland and Iceland. He found a firm sup- 
porter in Mr. J. Rodney Croskey, of London, who advanced 
the " caution " money to the Danish Government for the 
concessions requisite in the Faroes, Iceland, and Green- 
land. 2 

1 The Story of the Atlantic Cable. 

2 Mr. Croskey also subsequently found the bulk of the capital 
for the exploring expeditions. 


Colonel Shaffner had been on terms of friendship for some 
years with Sir Charles Bright and his brother, who had 
both contributed a good deal to his Telegraph Manual, 
published in the United States. Thus, after this prelimi- 
nary work, he and Mr. Croskey discussed the matter with 
Sir Charles, who soon recognised its feasibility, and entered 
heartily into the project as its technical adviser. 

The first point was to convince the public that there 
were no insuperable difficulties in the way, by further sur- 
veys and soundings of a detailed character, so as to ascertain 
the inequalities of the bottom, as well as the materials of 
which it was composed. 

In the course of the spring of 1860, Colonel Shaffner 
read a paper on the proposed North Atlantic Telegraph to 
the members of the Royal Geographical Society, the result 
being that much assistance was offered by those present, 
including Earl de Grey, Sir Roderick Murchison, and the 
Secretary, Dr. Norton Shaw. On May I5th, Lord Palmers- 
ton granted an audience to an influential deputation, 
headed by the Right Hon. Milner Gibson, M.P., and four 
other members of the House of Commons, to solicit the 
assistance of Government, in sending out ships and officers 
to make the necessary official survey, for ascertaining the 
practicability of the proposed route. The Premier appeared 
to fully appreciate the advantages of the north-about 
scheme, and in a short time the Admiralty were directed 
to despatch an expedition for the purpose of making the 
requisite survey. The Admiralty selected for this duty 
Captain McClintock, R.N., 1 an officer of great experience 

1 Later Admiral Sir Leopold McClintock, K.C.B., LL.D., F.R.S; 


in the navigation of the Arctic seas, and H.M.S. Bulldog 
was placed under his command. This distinguished officer 
was directed to take the deep-sea soundings, and he sailed 
from Portsmouth on his mission in June, 1860. In the mean- 
time, the promoters of the enterprise purchased the Fox 
the steam yacht formerly employed in the search for Frank- 
lin and fitted her out with a view to making surveys 
of the proposed landing-places. The Fox was placed 
under the command of Captain Young, 1 of the mercantile 
marine, an officer well known for his distinguished labours 
under McClintock in the Franklin search. At the same time, 
Dr. John Rae, an intrepid Arctic explorer, volunteered 
his services to join the Fox, in charge of the overland 
expeditions in the Faroe Isles, Iceland, and Greenland. 
Colonel Shaffner, as concessioner, also accompanied the 
Fox expedition, to take part in the surveys. 

Before the departure of the Fox, which sailed on July 
i8th, 1860, Her Majesty the Queen, the Prince Consort, and 
other members of the Royal Family honoured the enter- 
prise by a visit to that vessel, while lying off Osborne, and 
showed a lively interest in the details of the expedition. 
After the royal visit, Sir Charles Bright, with other pro- 
moters and friends, saw the party off with many hearty 
good wishes. 

On the return of the expedition, Sir Leopold McClintock 
reported to Sir Charles, favouring the route as perfectly 
practicable, pointing out that the ice would not really 
prove a difficulty, and strongly approving of the original 
intention of a land line across Iceland to Faxe Bay, " as 

1 Now Sir Allen Young, C.B. 


by so doing you will avoid the only part of the sea where 
submarine volcanic disturbances may be suspected." 

The results of the voyages of H.M.S. Bulldog and the 
steam-yacht Fox were brought before a crowded meeting of 
the Royal Geographical Society on January 28th, 1861, when 
Sir Leopold McClintock gave the first public account of his 
submarine survey along, and in the vicinity of, the proposed 
course of the cable. Then followed an exhaustive paper by 
Sir Charles Bright, giving a synopsis of Captain Young's 
report on his voyage in the Fox including the examination 
of various estuaries and harbours so as to enable a decision 
to be arrived at as to the best landing-places, the climatic 
conditions, etc. From both sets of soundings it was shown 
that, as a rule, the bottom was of ooze. Dr. Wallich, the 
naturalist of the expedition, had brought up brightly 
coloured star-fish from depths of over a mile, whereas it 
had previously been believed that nothing could possibly 
live under such an enormous pressure of water. In con- 
cluding his paper, Sir Charles made the following remarks : 

Having thus presented to the Society some of the most valu- 
able and interesting portions of Captain Young's report, I have 
only to observe that the result of the recent survey has been to 
remove from my mind the apprehensions which I previously 
entertained in common with many others as to the extent and 
character of the difficulties to be overcome in carrying a line of 
telegraph to America by the northern route. 

Prior to the despatch of the surveying expedition, we had no 
knowledge of the depth of the seas to be crossed, with the excep- 
tion of the few soundings obtained by Colonel Shaffner in 1859, 
and our information as to the nature of the shores of Greenland 
in regard to the requirements of a telegraphic cable was equally 


These points are of vital importance to the prospects of the 
North Atlantic route, and the survey has placed us in possession 
of satisfactory particulars respecting them. The soundings 
taken by Sir Leopold McClintock will be a guide in the selection 
of the most suitable form for the deep-sea lengths of the cable, 
while the data furnished by Captain Young will direct the con- 
struction of the more massive cables to be laid in the inlets of 
the coast. 

It is not necessary to determine upon the precise landing-places, 
and other details in connection with the enterprise, at the present 
time. But the promoters of the undertaking have received 
ample encouragement from the survey to warrant them in pro- 
ceeding with their labours with renewed vigour and confidence. 
When they have achieved that success which their perseverance 
and energy deserve, I am sure they will always gratefully remem- 
ber that their endeavours at the stage of their operations which 
is now under discussion would have been very much less produc- 
tive of good results but for the patriotic foresight of Lord Pal- 
merston in ordering the Bulldog on her late successful service. 
We must also be most thankful for the assistance of Sir Leopold 
McClintock, Captain Young, Dr. Rae, and the Commissioner 
appointed to accompany the Fox by the Danish Government, 
whose patience and devotion to their self-imposed work has been 
beyond all praise. Nor can those interested in this important 
undertaking forget the great help rendered to them by the Royal 
Geographical Society. 1 

Then came a highly instructive paper by Dr. Rae. He 
gave a number of interesting particulars of his land surveys, 
the population, price of food, wages, etc. He also described 
the ride of the Fox party across Iceland, whilst making 
important suggestions as to the route for the land line 
with a view to avoiding the geysers. These papers were 

1 Bright's paper, as above, is given in full in Appendix 12 to 
Vol. I. of the original biography. 


followed at the next meeting of the Geographical Society by 
an exhaustive discussion, at which Lord Ashburton, Admiral 
Sir Edward Belcher, Captain (afterwards Rear-Admiral) 
Sherard Osborn, R.N., C.B., Mr. John Ball, F.R.S., and 
various gentlemen of Arctic expedition fame, spoke favour- 
ably of the project. 1 

At this time, however (1861), there was still too much 
discouragement owing to the stoppage in working of the 
first Atlantic cable, and the yet more disastrous failure 
of the Red Sea and Indian lines, besides the loss of other 
cables in the Mediterranean. Moreover, there were those 
who continued to fear the ice-floes ; and in the end, the 
public did not respond sufficiently. Thus, after all, what 
came to be styled the " Grand North Atlantic Telegraph" 
project which had been worked out with so much trouble 
and expense was never actually realised. 

Another scheme which attracted some attention about 
the same time was described as the " South Atlantic Tele- 
graph." This was for a very long length of cable between the 
south of Spain and the coast of Brazil, touching at Madeira, 
the Canary Islands, Cape de Verde Isles, Don Pedro and 
Fernando de Noronha Island on the way and stretching 
out to the West Indies and the United States. 

Then there was a project concerning which Sir Charles 
was also consulted for a cable on an intermediate route 

1 It was here that Sir William Fothergill Cooke took occasion 
to express the pride he felt in Sir Charles having been so to speak 
a pupil of his ; and he expressed himself similarly at various times 
in public. 


from Portugal to the Azores, and thence to America, via 
Bermuda and the Southern States. 

Being, however, to a great extent foreign in their scope, 
these latter schemes found little favour with those in our 
country who were by way of promoting such enterprises. 1 

The 1865 and 1866 Cables* 

Though their cables had ceased to work, the Atlantic 
Company was kept afloat by the promoters, whilst Mr. 
Lampson as vice-chairman, and Mr. Saw r ard as secretary, 
were doing all that could be done to keep its objects con- 
stantly before the public, in the hopes of raising fresh funds. 3 

In 1862 the Government were prevailed on to despatch 
H.M.S. Porcupine to further examine the ocean floor 300 
miles out from the coasts of Ireland and Newfoundland 

It took a considerable time to get together the full amount 
of capital required for another Atlantic cable ; this, indeed, 
could only be done gradually. The great civil war in America 
stimulated capitalists to renew the undertaking. One of 
the main advantages adduced was on this occasion, as 

1 Submarine Telegraphs. 

2 It should be observed that a considerable interval of time 
occurred between the events just dealt with and those forming the 
subject of the present section of this chapter. It was thought best 
to depart from order of date here and tell the story of early Atlantic 
Telegraphy in a consecutive manner. The intervening period is 
accounted for, so far as our object is concerned, in subsequent 

3 Submarine Telegraphs. 


before the avoidance of misunderstandings between the 
two countries. Another intended by Mr. Cyrus Field as 
a special inducement to his fellow-countrymen was the 
improvement of the agricultural position of the United 
States, by extending to it the facilities, already enjoyed by 
France, of commanding the foreign grain markets. On this 
account, the project was warmly supported by the Right 
Honourable John Bright, M.P., and other eminent " Free 

Mr. Field, however, met with as little success in obtaining 
pecuniary support in the States as he had in connection with 
the previous line. His brother, Mr. H. M. Field, writes : 

The summer of this year (1862) Mr. Field spent in America, 
where he applied himself vigorously to raising capital for the 
new enterprise. To this end he visited Boston, Providence, 
Philadelphia, Albany, and Buffalo, to address meetings of mer- 
chants and others. He used to amuse us with the account of his 
visit to the first city, where he was honoured with the attendance 
of a large array of " the solid men of Boston," who listened 
with an attention that was most flattering to the pride of the 
speaker addressing such an assemblage in the capital of his native 

There was no mistaking the interest they felt in the subject. 
They went still further ; they passed a series of resolutions, in 
which they applauded the projected telegraph across the ocean 
as one of the grandest enterprises ever undertaken by man, 
which they proudly commended to the confidence and support 
of the American public. After this they went home feeling 
that they had done the generous thing in bestowing upon it such 
a mark of their approbation. But not a man subscribed a dollar ! 

In point of fact, as before, the cable of 1865 as well as 
that of 1866 was provided for out of English pockets. Let 


us now substantiate this statement by a cursory glance at 
events. Mr. Thomas Brassey, M.P., was the first to be 
appealed to in this country, and he supported the venture 
nobly. Then Mr. Fender * was applied to, and here also 
substantial aid was forthcoming. Both these gentlemen 
had joined the Board of the Telegraph Construction and 
Maintenance Company which had just been formed (in 
April, 1864), as the result of amalgamation of the Gutta- 
Percha Co. and Messrs. Glass, Elliot & Co. 

Shortly after the first Atlantic cable was laid, Messrs. 
Glass, Elliot & Co. availed themselves of the services of 
Mr. Canning and Mr. Clifford, whose engagements on Charles 
Bright 's staff for the " Atlantic " Company had ceased. 
Thus, with an additional staff of electricians, they had 
placed themselves in a position to undertake direct contracts 
for laying, as well as manufacturing, submarine telegraphs. 
They had, indeed, carried out work of this character in the 
Mediterranean during the year 1860 ; and on the amalgama- 
tion of the two businesses above mentioned into a limited 
liability company, their position was still further strengthened. 

The capital raised for the new cable by the Atlantic Tele- 
graph Company was /6oo,ooo ; and by agreeing to take a 
considerable proportion of their payment in " Atlantic " 
shares, the contractors, now the Telegraph Construction 
Company, 2 practically found more than half of this amount. 
It will be seen that the new cable was to be an expensive 
one as compared with that of 1857-58. It was the outcome 

1 Afterwards Sir John Fender, G.C.M.G., M.P. 
1 This firm had previously (as Glass, Elliot & Co.) been selected 
to undertake the entire work. 


of six years' further experience, during which several im- 
portant lines dealt with in subsequent pages had been 
laid. It also followed upon the exhaustive Government 
inquiry already alluded to. 

The actual type, adopted on the recommendation of Sir 
Charles Bright, was much the same in respect to the con- 
ductor and insulator l as that which Sir Charles had sug- 
gested for the previous Atlantic line, on which occasion, it 
will be remembered, his recommendation was not followed. 
The armour provided for the present insulated and yarn- 

served heart, or core, was precisely similar to Sir Charles' 
Government specification of May, 1859, ^ or the proposed 
cable from Falmouth to Gibraltar. It consisted of a com- 
bination of iron and hemp, each wire being enveloped in 
manilla yarns. The object of encasing the separate wires 
in hemp was (i) to protect them from rust due to exposure 
to air and water, and (2) to reduce the specific gravity of 

1 300 lb. copper to 400 Ib. gutta-percha per nautical mile. Bright 
was also specially consulted regarding the estimates, besides draw- 
ing up the specification. 


the cable, with a view to rendering it more capable of sup- 
porting its own weight in water. This form of cable- 
bearing a stress of about eight tons l was considered by 
most of the authorities at that period to perfectly fulfil the 
conditions required for deep-sea lines. 2 

It was determined that this time the cable must be laid 
in one length (with the exception of the shore ends), by a 
single vessel. 3 There was but one ship that could carry such 
a cargo. This ship was the Great Eastern the conception 
of that distinguished engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunei. 
She was in course of construction, by the late Mr. Scott 
Russell, at the time of the first cable, and Charles Bright 
had joined with Brunei in his regrets that she w r as not then 
available. An enormous craft of 22,500 tons, she did not 
prove suitable at that time as a cargo boat ; and the laying 
of the second Atlantic cable was the first piece of useful 
work she did, after lying more or less idle for nearly ten years. 
It is sad to think of the way this poor old ship w r as metaphori- 
cally passed from hand to hand. Even at this period, three 
separate companies had already been formed one after 
another to work her. As promoter and chairman of one 

L The increased breaking strain here afforded over that of the 
first Atlantic line was partly due to the great improvements made 
in the manufacture of iron wire during the interval. 

2 Experience has since taught us, however, that such a type lacks 
durability, owing to the rapid decay of the hemp between the iron 
wires and the sea. When the hemp has once decayed a bundle of 
loose wires are left, w r hich by exposure all round soon become seri- 
ously reduced and weakened. Moreover, this pattern was found 
afterwards to be unsuitable on account of a broken wire being liable 
to stab the insulation an accident which could scarcely happen to 
a close-sheathed type. 

3 The Story of the Atlantic Cable. 


of these, Mr. Gooch, C.E. (afterwards Sir Daniel Gooch, 
Bart., M.P.), took an active part in arranging that she should 
be chartered for this undertaking. Hence it was that he 
became a prominent party in the enterprise, with a seat on 
the Board of the Telegraph Construction Company. 

In main principles, the apparatus for paying out the cable 
was similar to that previously adopted on the Agamemnon 
and Niagara. 1 There were, however, several modifications 
introduced, as the result of the extra experience gained 
during the seven years' interval. The main point of differ- 
ence was the further application of jockeys, in a more com- 
plete form. All the machinery for the present undertaking 
was constructed and set up by the famous firm of engineers, 
Messrs. John Penn & Son, of Greenwich. 

As soon as the full length of cable had been manufac- 
tured, and shipped from the Greenwich Works, the Great 
Eastern, under the command of Captain (afterwards Sir 
James) Anderson, 2 left the Thames on July 23rd, 1865, and 
proceeded to Foilhommerum Bay, Valentia. Here she 
joined up her cable to the shore end 3 which had been laid 

1 This general similarity is referred to in the complete account 
of the 1865 and 1866 machinery, given by Mr. Elliot (afterwards 
Sir George Elliot, Bart,, M.P.) in the course of a paper read before 
the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1867. 

2 Captain Anderson had the reputation of possessing great skill 
in the handling of a ship. He was at the time in the service of the 
Cunard Steamship Company, by whose permission he joined the 

3 This somewhere near thirty miles in length had been made 
by Mr. W. T. Henley, of North Woolwich. It had an additional 
outer sheathing of iron strands, each strand being composed of three 
stout wires, bringing the weight up to as much as twenty tons 
per mile. 


a day earlier by s.s. Caroline, a small vessel chartered and 
fitted up for the purpose. The great ship then started 
paying out as she steamed away on her journey to America, 
escorted by two British men-of-war, the Terrible and the 

On behalf of the contractors the Telegraph Construction 
and Maintenance Company Mr. (now Sir Samuel) Canning 
was the Engineer in charge, with Mr. Henry Clifford as his 
chief assistant. As we have seen, both these gentlemen 
had been engaged with Sir Charles Bright on the first Atlantic 
expedition, and had had much experience, alike in cable 
work and mechanical engineering. There was also on the 
engineering staff of the contractors, Mr. John Temple 
(formerly Bright's secretary and assistant engineer), as well 
as Mr. Robert London. Mr. C. V. de Sauty served as chief 
electrician, assisted by Mr. H. A. C. Saunders, and several 
others. By arrangement with the Admiralty, Staff-Com- 
mander H. A. Moriarty, R.N., again acted as the navigator 
of the expedition. Captain Moriarty was possessed of great 
skill in that direction a fact which had been made clear 
in the previous undertakings. 

Though acting as Consulting Engineer to this enterprise, 
Sir Charles Bright did not accompany the expedition. As 
will be seen in a subsequent chapter, he was at the time deeply 
engaged in political matters. Indeed, his visits to Green- 
wich had been of late largely associated with the General 
Election. These visits terminated in his being returned 
for that borough ; but the Atlantic Telegraph Company was 
represented on board by Professor Thomson and Mr. C. F. 
Varley, as electricians, the former acting mainly as scientific 


expert in a consultative sense. Both Mr. Field and Mr. 
Gooch accompanied the expedition, the former as promoter 
of the scheme, and the latter on behalf of the Great Eastern 
Company. Representing the Press, there were also on 
board Dr. W. H. Russell, 1 the well-known correspondent 
of The Times, as the historian of the enterprise ; and Mr. 
Robert Dudley, an artist of repute, who produced several 
excellent pictures of the work in its different stages, as well 
as articles for the Illustrated London News. 

Inasmuch as Bright was not on board, a detailed account 
of the trip is not attempted here. It suffices to say that 
several mishaps occurred during the laying. A number 
of unsuccessful attempts were made to recover the cable 
after it had been broken in deep water when endeavour- 
ing to haul back a fault. Ultimately the ships had to 
return home, on August nth, without completing their 

Second and Successful Attempt, 1866. The results of the 
last expedition, disastrous as they were from a financial 
point of view, in no wise abated the courage of the pro- 
moters. During the heaviest weather the Great Eastern 
had shown exceptional " stiffness " ; whilst her great size 
and manoeuvring power (afforded by the screw and paddles 
combined) seemed to show her to be the very type of vessel 
for the kind of work in hand. The newly-designed picking- 
up gear, it was true, had proved insufficient ; but with the 
paying-out machinery no serious fault was to be found. 

1 Later Sir William Howard Russell, LL.D. 


The feasibility of grappling in mid- Atlantic had been de- 
monstrated, and they had gone far towards proving the 
possibility of recovering the cable from similar depths. 

The Atlantic Telegraph Company was amalgamated with 
a new concern, the Anglo-American Telegraph Company, 
which was formed, mainly by those interested in the older 
business, with the object of raising fresh capital for the new 
and double ventures of 1866. The ultimate capital of this 
Company amounted (as before) to 600,000. In raising this, 
Mr. Field first secured the support of Mr. (afterwards Sir 
Daniel) Gooch, M.P., chairman of the Great Western Rail- 
way Company, who promised, if necessary, to subscribe 
as much as 20,000. On the same conditions, Mr. Brassey 
expressed his willingness to bear one-tenth of the total cost 
of the undertaking. Ultimately, the Telegraph Construc- 
tion Company led off with 100,000, this amount being 
followed by the signatures of ten directors interested in the 
contract (as guarantors) at 10,000 apiece. Then there 
were four subscriptions of 5,000, and some of 2,500 to 
1,000, principally from firms participating in one shape 
or another in the sub-contracts. These sums were all 
subscribed before even the prospectus was issued, or the 
books opened to the public. The remaining capital soon 
followed. The Telegraph Corstruction Company, in under- 
taking the entire work as contractors, were to receive 
500,000 for the new cable in any case ; and if it succeeded, 
an extra 100,000. If both cables came into effective opera- 
tion, the total amount payable to them was to be 737,140- 

It was now proposed not only to lay a new cable between 
Ireland and Newfoundland, but also to repair and complete 


the one lying at the bottom of the sea. A length of 1,600 
miles of cable was ordered from the contractors. Thus, 
with the unexpended cable from the last expedition, the 
total length available when the expedition started would 
be 2,730 miles, of which 1,960 miles were allotted to the 
new cable, and 697 to complete the old one, leaving 113 
miles as a reserve. The new main cable was similar to that 
of the year before. The shore-end type determined on 


in this case was of a different description. It had only one 
sheathing, consisting of twelve contiguous iron wires of 
great individual surface and weight ; and outside all a cover- 
ing of tarred hemp and compound. The part of this cable 
which was intended for shallow depths was made in 
accordance with Bright's recommendation in three 
different types. Starting from the coast of Ireland, eight 
miles of the heaviest was to be laid, then eight miles of the 


intermediate, and lastly fourteen miles of the lightest type, 
making thirty miles of shoal- water cable on the Irish side. 
Five miles of shallow-water cable of the different types named 
were considered sufficient on the Newfoundland coast. 

For the purpose of grappling the 1865 cable, tw y enty miles 
of rope were manufactured, which was constituted of forty- 


nine iron wires, separately covered with manilla hemp. 
Six wires so served were laid up strand-wise round a seventh, 
which formed the heart, or core, of the rope. This rope 
would stand a longitudinal stress of thirty tons before 
breaking. In addition, five miles of buoy rope were pro- 
vided, besides buoys of different shapes and sizes, the largest 


of which would support a weight of twenty tons. As on 
the previous expedition, several kinds of grapnels were 
put on board some of the ordinary sort, and some with 
springs to prevent the cable surging and thus escaping 
whilst the grapnel was still dragging on the bottom : others, 
again, were fashioned like pincers, to hold (or jam) the 
cable when raised to a required height, or else to cut it only, 
and so take off a large proportion of the strain previous to 
picking up. 1 

The testing arrangements had been perfected by Mr. 
Willoughby Smith in such a way that insulation readings 
could be continuously observed, even whilst measuring the 
copper resistance, or while exchanging signals with Valentia. 
Thus there was no longer any danger of a fault being paid 
overboard without instant detection. On this occasion, 
also, condensers were applied to the receiving end of the 
cable, having the effect of very materially increasing the 
working speed. 

On June 30 th, 1866, the Great Eastern steaming from 
the Thames, followed by the Medway and Albany arrived 
at Valentia, where H.M.S. Terrible and Racoon were found, 
under orders to accompany the expedition. The Medway had 
on board forty-five miles of deep-sea cable in addition to 
the American shore-end. 

The principal members of the staff acting on behalf of 
the contractors in this expedition were the same as in that 
of the previous year : Mr. Canning was again in charge, with 
Mr. Clifford and Mr. Temple as his chief assistants. In the 
electrical department, however, the Telegraph Construction 
1 Submarine Telegraphs. 


Company had since secured the services of Mr. Willoughby 
Smith as their chief electrician, whilst he still acted in that 
capacity at the Wharf Road Gutta-Percha Works. Mr. 
Smith, therefore, accompanied the expedition as chief elec- 
trician to the contractors. Captain James Anderson and 
Staff-Commander H. A. Moriarty, R.N., were once more 
to be seen on board the great ship, the former as her cap- 
tain, and the latter as navigating officer. Professor Thom- 
son was aboard as consulting electrical adviser to the Atlantic 
Telegraph Company, 1 whilst Mr. C. F. Varley was ashore 
at Valentia as their electrician. Sir Charles Bright was at 
this period serving on certain committees of the House of 
Commons, as alluded to further on ; but his partner, Mr. 
Latimer Clark, took up his quarters on board to person- 
ally represent the firm of Bright and Clark as consulting 
engineers to the Anglo-American Telegraph Company, Mr. 
J. C. Laws and Mr. Richard Collett being respectively 
at the Valentia and Newfoundland ends representing the 
same firm. Mr. Glass, the managing director of the Tele- 
graph Construction Company, was ashore at Valentia for 
the purpose of giving any instructions to his (the con- 
tractor's) staff on the ship, whilst Mr. Gooch and Mr. Field 
were on board the Great Eastern as onlookers and watchers 
of their individual interests. 

On July yth the William Cory commonly known as the 
Dirty Billy landed the shore end in Foilhommerum Bay, 
and afterwards laid out twenty-seven miles of the inter- 
mediate cable. On the I3th, the Great Eastern took the end 

1 Though financially wrapped up with the new " Anglo " Com- 
pany, the " Atlantic " continued in existence till as late as 1874. 


on board, and, having spliced on to her cable aboard, 
started paying out. The track followed was parallel to 
that of the year before, but about twenty-seven miles 
further north. There were two instances of fouls in the 
tank. These were both due to broken wires catching 
neighbouring turns and flakes, and thus drawing up a 
whole bundle of cable in an apparently inextricable mass 
of kinks quite close to the brake drum. In each case the 
ship was promptly got to a standstill, and all hands set to 
unravelling the tangle. With a certain amount of luck, 
neither accident ended fatally ; and, after straightening 
out the wire as far as possible, paying out was resumed. 
Fourteen days after starting, the Great Eastern arrived off 
Heart's Content, Trinity Bay, where the Medway joined on 
and landed the shore-end, thus bringing to a successful 
conclusion this part of the expedition. The total length 
of cable laid was 1,852 nautical miles, average depth 1,400 
fathoms. After much rejoicing 1 during the coaling of the 
Great Eastern, the Telegraph Fleet once more put to sea, on 
August 9th. 

Recovery and Completion of 1865 Cable. It now remained 
to find the end of the cable lost on August 2nd, 1865, situated 
about 604 miles from Newfoundland, to pick it up, splice 

1 These rejoicings were at first somewhat dampened by the fact 
that the cable between Newfoundland and Cape Breton (Nova 
Scotia) still remained interrupted, and that consequently the entire 
telegraphic system was not even now complete. However, in the 
course of a few days this line was repaired, and New York and the 
rest of the United States and Canada were put into telegraphic 
communication with Europe. 


on to the cable remaining on board, and finish the work so 
unfortunately interrupted the year before. On August I2th, 
the Great Eastern, accompanied by s.s. Medway, arrived 
on the scene of action, where they joined H.M.S. Terrible 
and s.s. Albany, these vessels having left Heart's Content 
Bay a week in advance to buoy the line of the 1865 cable 
and commence grappling. The plan decided on was to 
drag for the cable near the end with all three ships at once. 
The cable, when raised to a certain height, was to be cut 
by the Medway, stationed to the westward of the Great 
Eastern, so as to enable the latter vessel to lift the Valentia 
end on board. 

After repeated failures and many mishaps, the cable was 
hooked on August 3ist by the Great Eastern (when the grapnel 
had been lowered for the thirtieth time), and picking up 
commenced in a complete calm. When the bight of cable 
was about 900 fathoms from the surface, the grappling rope 
was buoyed. The big ship then proceeded to grapple three 
miles west of the buoy, and the Medway another two miles, 
or so, west of her again. The cable was soon once more 
hooked by both ships, and when the Medway had raised her 
bight to within 300 fathoms of the surface she was ordered 
to break it. The Great Eastern having stopped picking up 
when the bight was 800 fathoms from the surface, proceeded 
to resume the operation as soon as the intentional rupture 
of the cable had eased the strain, which, with a loose end 
of about two miles, at once fell from 10 or u tons to 5 tons. 
Slowly but surely, and amid breathless silence, the long-lost 
cable made its appearance at last for the third time above 
water, a little before one o'clock (early morn) of September 



2nd. Two hours later the precious end was on board, and 
signals were exchanged with Valentia. 1 

The recovered end was spliced on to the cable on board, 
and the same morning the Great Eastern started paying out 
about 680 nautical miles of cable towards Newfoundland. 
On September 8th, when only 13 miles from the Bay of Heart's 
Content just after receiving a summary of the ne\vs in 
The Times of that morning the tests showed a fault in the 
line. The mischief was soon found to be on board ship ; 
and the faulty portion having been cut out, paying out again 
proceeded, finishing the same day at eleven o'clock in the 
forenoon. The Medway immediately set to work laying the 
shore-end, and that evening a second line of communica- 
tion across the Atlantic was completed. The total length of 
this cable, commenced in 1865, was 1,896 miles ; average 
depth, 1,900 fathoms. 

The main feature and accomplishment in connection 
with the second and third Atlantic cables, of 1865 and 1866, 
was the recovery of the former in deeper water than had 
ever been before effected, in the open ocean ; just as in the 
first (1858) line it was the demonstration of the fact that 
a cable could be successfully laid in such a depth, and worked 
through electrically. 2 

It should be mentioned that Professor Thomson's re- 
flecting apparatus for testing and signalling through a long 
submarine line had been considerably improved since the first 

1 Submarine Telegraphs. The Story of the Atlantic Cable. 

2 The Story of the Atlantic Cable. 


cable. In illustration of the degree of sensibility and perfection 
attained at this period in the appliances for working the 
line, the following experiment is of striking interest : Mr. 
Latimer Clark who went to Valentia to test the cable on 
behalf of Messrs. Bright & Clark had the conductor of the 
two lines joined together at the Newfoundland end, thus 
forming an unbroken length of 3,700 miles in circuit. He 
then placed some pure sulphuric acid in a lady's silver 
thimble, with a fragment of zinc weighing a grain or two. 
By this primitive agency he succeeded in conveying signals 
twice through the breadth of the Atlantic Ocean in little 
more than a second of time. The deflections were not of a 
dubious character, but full and strong, the spot of light 
traversing freely over a space of 12 inches or more, from 
which it was manifest that an even smaller battery would 
suffice to produce somewhat similar effects. This speaks 
well for the electrical components assigned to the two 
lines, and for the arrangements adopted in working them. 
It also shows the benefit derived from seven years' 
extra experience in manufacture, backed up by the 
previously - mentioned exhaustive Government inquiry 

Notwithstanding the dimensions of the core, these cables 
were worked slowly at first at a rate of about eight words 
per minute. This was, however, steadily increased as the 
staff became more accustomed to the apparatus up to fifteen 
and even seventeen words per minute, with the application 
of condensers. 

Unfortunately both these lines broke down a few months 
later, and one of them again during the following year. 


The faults were localised l with great accuracy from Heart's 
Content by Mr. F. Lambert, on behalf of Messrs. Bright 
& Clark. Unlike the 1858 line, however, these last cables 
had not been killed electrically ; and being worthy of re- 
pairs, they were maintained for a considerable time. 

On the return of the 1866 Expedition, a banquet was 
given to the cable layers by the Liverpool Chamber of Com- 
merce as soon as the Great Eastern was once more safely 
moored in the Mersey. 

The following account from The Times will be of some 
interest here : 

The decorations assumed an emblematic character, and were 
peculiarly appropriate to the event which was being celebrated. 
From the centre of the room there hung the grapnel by which the 
previous line was recovered from the bed of the ocean, a piece 
of the cable itself, and the grapnel chain. Then around the room 
were two lines of the cable supported by gilded grapnels, a pro- 
fusion of sea-weed being entangled about the lines. The principal 
mirrors were surmounted by trophies of flags : those over the 
mirror at the rear of the President consisting of English and 
American flags, and those over the principal side mirrors being 
flags of all nations. 

A line of telegraph was extended from the British and Irish 
Magnetic Telegraph Company's Office, at the Liverpool Exchange, 
to the banqueting room ; and as a practical illustration of the 
working of the cable, a message was despatched to Washington, 
besides communications by the telegraph being read from New- 

The chair was occupied by the Right Hon. Sir Stafford 

1 The above location was performed by a method based on Charles 
Blight's patent of 1852, already referred to. 


Northcote, Bart., 1 President of the Board of Trade. The 
following were amongst the invited guests : The Right Hon. 
Lord Stanley, M.P., Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs ; 
the Right Hon. Lord Carnarvon ; the Right Rev. the Lord 
Bishop of Chester ; the Right Hon. W. E. Gladstone, M.P. ; 
Sir Charles Bright, M.P., original projector of the Atlantic 
Cable, and engineer to the Anglo-American Telegraph 
Company ; Professor W. Thomson, electrical adviser to the 
Atlantic Telegraph Company ; Mr. Latimer Clark, co-engineer 
with Sir C. Bright ; Mr. R. A. Glass, managing director to the 
Telegraph Construction Company (contractors) ; Mr. Samuel 
Canning, engineer to the contractors ; Mr. Henry Clifford, 
assistant engineer to the contractors ; Mr. Willoughby 
Smith, electrician to the contractors ; Captain James 
Anderson, commander of the Great Eastern ; Mr. William 
Barber, chairman of the Great Ship Company ; Mr. John 
Chatterton, manager of the Gutta-Percha Works ; Mr. E. B. 
Bright, Magnetic Telegraph Company ; Mr. T. B. Horsfall, 
M.P. ; and Mr. John Laird, M.P. 

After proposing toasts to Her Majesty the Queen, to the Presi- 
dent of the United States, and to the Prince of Wales, the Chair- 
man (Sir S. Northcote) again rose amidst applause and said it 
was a maxim of a great Roman poet that a great work should be 
begun by plunging into the middle of the subject. He would 
therefore do so by proposing a toast to the projectors of the 
Atlantic Telegraph, Sir Charles Bright and Mr. Cyrus Field, Mr. 
J. W. Brett having since unfortunately died. When they came 
in after years to relate the history of this cable, they would find 
many who had contributed to it ; but it would be as impossible 

1 Afterwards the first Earl of Iddesleigh, G.C.B. 


to say who were the originators of the great invention as it was 
to say who were the first inventors of steam. He begged to 
couple with the toast the name of Sir Charles Bright, as, perhaps, 
the foremost representative from all points of view, up to the 
present time. (Applause.) The greatest honour is due to the 
indomitable perseverance and energy of Sir C. Bright that the 
original cable was successfully laid, though through no fault 
of his it had but a short useful existence. (Great cheering.) 

Sir Charles Bright, M.P., after acknowledging the compliment 
paid to the " original projectors " and to himself personally, said 
that the idea of laying a cable across the Atlantic was the natural 
outcome of the success which was attained in carrying short 
lines under the English and Irish Channels, and was a common 
subject of discussion among those concerned in telegraph exten- 
sion prior to the formation of the Atlantic Telegraph Com- 

About ten years ago the science had sufficiently advanced to 
permit of the notion assuming a practical form. Soundings 
taken in the Atlantic between Ireland and Newfoundland proved 
that the bottom was soft, and that no serious currents or abrad- 
ing agencies existed ; for the minute and fragile shells brought 
up by the sounding-line were perfect and uninjured. 

There only remained the proof that electricity could be suc- 
cessfully employed through so vast a length of conductor. Upon 
this point, and the best mode of working such a line, he had 
been experimenting for several years. He had carried on a 
series of investigations which resulted in establishing the fact 
that messages could be practically passed through an unbroken 
circuit of more than two thousand miles of insulated wire a 
notion derided at that time by many distinguished authorities. 
Mr. Wildman Whitehouse who subsequently became Electri- 
cian to the Company had been likewise engaged. On comparing 
notes later, it was discovered that they had arrived at similar 
conclusions, though holding somewhat different views. His 
(Sir C. Bright's) calculations, using other instruments, led him 
to believe that a conductor nearly four times the size of that 


adopted would be desirable, with a slightly thicker insulator. It 
was this type which the new cables just laid had been furnished 

In 1856, Mr. Cyrus Field to whom the world was as much 
indebted for the establishment of the line as to any man came 
over to England upon the completion of the telegraph between 
Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. He then joined with the 
late Mr. Brett and himself (Sir C. Bright) with a view to extend- 
ing this system to Europe, and they mutually agreed to carry 
out the undertaking. 

A meeting was first held in Liverpool, and in the course of a few 
days their friends had subscribed the necessary capital. So that in 
greeting those who had just returned from the last expedition 
Mr. Canning, Mr. Clifford, Captain Anderson, and other guests 
of the evening Liverpool was fitly welcoming those who had 
accomplished the crowning success of an enterprise to which at 
the outset she had so largely contributed. (Applause.) 

The circumstances connected with the first cable would be in 
the recollection of every one ; and although the loss was con- 
siderable, the experience gained was of no small moment. A 
few months after the old line had ceased to work, their chair- 
man (Sir S. Northcote) consulted him on behalf of the Govern- 
ment as to the best form of cable for connecting us telegraphically 
with Gibraltar ; and he (Sir C. Bright) did not hesitate to recom- 
mend the same type of conductor and insulator which he had 
before suggested for the Atlantic line. This class of conductor 
in the newly-laid Atlantic cable appeared likely to give every 
satisfaction, he was happy to say ; and the mechanical con- 
struction of the cable also the same as that he had previously 
specified for the Gibraltar line appeared to have admirably 
met some of the difficulties experienced in cable operations. 

The credit attached to these second and third Atlantic cables 
must mainly rest with the Telegraph Construction Company 
(formerly Messrs. Glass, Elliot & Co.) and their staff, inasmuch 
as in this case the responsibility rested with them throughout. 
The directors including Mr. Glass, Mr. Elliot, Mr. Gooch, Mr. 


Fender, Mr. Barclay, and Mr. Brassey deserved the reward 
which they and the shareholders would no doubt reap. 

To Mr. Glass upon whom the principal responsibility of the 
manufacture devolved the greatest praise was due, for his 
indomitable perseverance in the enterprise. Then the art of 
insulating the conducting wire had been wonderfully improved 
by Mr. Chatterton and Mr. Willoughby Smith, so that, nowadays, 
a very feeble electrical current was sufficient to work the longest 
circuits an enormous advance on the state of affairs nine years 

Again, they must not forget how much of the success now 
attained was due to Professor Thomson and his delicate signall- 
ing apparatus, the advantages of which have, since 1858, been 
more firmly established. Mr. Varley had also done much useful 
work since becoming electrician to the " Atlantic " Company. 
Moreover, he (Sir C. Bright) hoped the active services of his 
partner, Mr. Latimer Clark, would not be lost sight of. 

It was satisfactory to find that the cables were already being 
worked at a profit. This would doubtless be quadrupled within 
a short period, when the land lines on the American side were 
improved. (Hear, hear, and applause.) 

With this commercial success combined with the improve- 
ments introduced into submarine cables, and the power of picking 
up and repairing them from vast depths there was a future for 
submarine telegraphy to which scarcely any bounds could be 
assigned. A certain amount had already been done ; but China 
and Japan, Australia and New Zealand, South America and the 
West India Islands, must all be placed within speaking distance 
of England. When this has been accomplished but not till 
then telegraphic engineers might take a short rest from their 
labours and ask with some little pride 

QUCB vegio in terris nostri non plena laboris ? 
(Loud Applause.) 

Then followed speeches from Lord Stanley, the American 
Consul (on behalf of Mr. Cyrus Field)~and others. 


Honours were subsequently bestowed on some of the 
various gentlemen immediately concerned in these ulti- 
mately successful undertakings of 1865 and 1866. 

As a natural sequence other Atlantic cables followed 
first of all in 1869 that hailing from France until now the 
North Atlantic ocean alone is spanned by as many as sixteen 
in working order. 1 Sir Charles Bright acted in a consulting 
capacity where not actually as engineer to practically all 
of those of a pioneer order which came within his lifetime. 

1 Submarine Telegraphs. The Story of the Atlantic Cable. 


The Mediterranean Cables 

OHORTLY after the laying of the 1858 Atlantic Cable, 
the attention of Government had been directed 
to the importance of establishing direct lines of telegraphic 
communication between Great Britain and her depen- 

Gibraltar was the first point considered and decided 
upon. Thus, in the House of Commons on July 28th, 1859, 
Sir W. Gallwey asked the Secretary of the Admiralty 
" what experiments were being made before risking the sum 
voted for the Gibraltar Cable." Lord Clarence Paget re- 
plied that " Experiments were in progress on behalf of the 
Board of Trade, by those eminent engineers, Sir Charles 
Bright and Mr. Robert Stephenson, with a view to testing 
the composition of the outer coverings of telegraphic cables." l 

In conjunction with Mr. Stephenson, Charles Bright drew 
up a report on the subject. Bright w^as also independently 
consulted regarding the proposed line by the late Right Hon. 
Sir Stafford Northcote, Bart., M.P., 2 as President of the 
Board of Trade. Eventually, at the request of Sir S. 

1 The Times, July 2gth, 1859. 

? Afterwards the first Earl of Iddesleigh, G.C.B, 



Northcote, Bright sent in a detailed report, estimate, and 
specification to the Treasury. 1 The conductor and insulator 
recommended by Sir Charles were the same as he had ineffec- 
tively suggested for the First Atlantic Cable and were 
both of much greater dimensions than anything previously 
done, consisting, in fact, of nearly 400 Ib. copper per mile 
to the same weight of gutta-percha covering. 

This core was forthwith ordered by Government, and 
manufactured at the Wharf Road Gutta-Percha Works, in 
accordance with Bright's specification. The outer cover- 
ing ultimately decided on by Sir Charles was exactly the 
same as was afterwards adopted for the second and third 
Atlantic lines of 1865 and 1866 a combination of iron and 
hemp with a view to meeting the exigencies of cable opera- 
tions in deep water. The cable was constructed at Messrs. 
Glass, Elliot & Co.'s factory towards the end of 1859. 

Subsequently, the Government decided to use the above 
to connect Rangoon with Singapore for the purposes of a 
more rapid communication with China. The war with 
that country having, however, come to an end before the 
cable was completed, the necessity for this line was lessened. 
Thus, its destination was changed a third time ; and it 
finally came into use as a link with Egypt one of the 
stages on the road to India. The cable was laid in three 
shallow water sections, i.e., Malta-Tripoli, Tripoli-Benghazi, 
and Benghazi-Alexandria. Perhaps the most remarkable 

1 For correspondence and Report see Parliamentary Blue Book 
respecting " The Establishment of Telegraphic Communication in 
the Mediterranean, and with India/' 1859 ; also Appendix 2 of Vol. 
II, of the original biography, 


feature in regard to this line is the fact that laying 
operations were always suspended at nightfall. 1 Notwith- 
standing the dimensions of the core provided, it could not 
be worked at a higher speed than three words per minute, 
on account of the instrument adopted i.e., the Morse 

As we shall see later, these cables were subsequently re- 
placed in 1868 by a direct line from Malta to Alexandria, 
when Sir Charles acted both as engineer and electrician. 

The Balearic Islands connected with Spain 

We must now go back in our narrative, as the undertaking 
we are about to describe was carried through a year previous 
to that just referred to. 

For a number of years, from 1855, the deep waters of the 
Mediterranean had proved a sort of bete noire to cable layers. 
In 1860, however, Sir Charles Bright broke the spell for 
a time, by successfully laying an important series of cables 
for the Spanish Government viz., between Barcelona and 
Port Mahon, Minorca, 180 miles; Minorca to Majorca, 35 
miles; Majorca to Ivica, 74 miles ; and Ivica to San Antonio, 
Spain, 76 miles in all 365 nautical miles. These cables 
were submerged in great depths, that between Barcelona 
and Port Mahon being 1,400 fathoms deep. They were 
manufactured by Mr. W. T. Henley. The sections between 
the three islands contained two conductors, each protected 
by eighteen outer wires, and weighed i ton 18 cwt. to the 
nautical mile ; and the two to the mainland were single 

1 This was, it is believed, on the score of difficult navigation. 


wire cables, cased with sixteen wires, weighing a ton and 
a quarter per nautical mile. 

Sir Charles fitted out a vessel the s.s. Stella for laying 
these lines. The work was carried out with great expe- 
dition. On August 2Qth, 1860, Bright laid the Minorca to 
Majorca section, completing the shore end and connections 
next day. The 315! saw the shore end and connections 
made at the opposite end of the island ; and the following 
day the cable was laid between Majorca and Iviga, the land- 
ing portion being carried out on September 2nd. Rough 
weather delayed operation for two days ; but on the 5th 
Iviga island was put into telegraphic communication with 
the Spanish mainland at Javea Bay, alongside Cape 

The remaining section to be laid was that between Barce- 
lona and Minorca a distance of about 100 miles. Sir 
Charles mentions in his diary, relating to the laying of this 
last length : " Weather very bad, and ship pitching and 
rolling much." 

After laying the shore end at Javea Bay, and making 
the connections with the Spanish land lines, he went on to 
Barcelona to complete the longest section 180 miles 
thence to Port Mahon, Minorca ; but here he met with 
considerable delay, first by a fault a long way down the 
main coil, which " rendered it necessary for the cable to 
be turned over into the after hold to get down to the de- 
fecthands to work day and night." x Then, on Septem- 
ber i5th, when ready to start, there came a message from 

1 From Sir C. Bright 's diary. 


the Spanish Government, from Madrid, to " detain the 
Stella until the arrival of Sefior d'Oksza," the Director of 
Telegraphs. This gentleman was of Polish origin, his full 
name being Count Thaddeus Orzechowski, which he had 
thoughtfully abbreviated for business purposes. 1 

After waiting till September lyth, it began blowing heavily 
till the 2ist, when Bright's diary states : 

6 a.m., steam up, ready to leave, but it appears the Bona- 
ventura (Spanish gunboat to accompany the Stella) was not 
informed yesterday, and cannot leave this morning. Weather 

Saturday, September 22nd. 5 a.m., steam up, but delayed in 
lifting anchor by the chain of a brig fouling ours. 6.45, steam- 
ing out of harbour. 10 o'clock, all ready for starting, but no 
current through cable \ Found that Spaniards had cut the cable 
and led it up a pole on shore \ 11.55 a.m., started paying out. 

At 1.55 next morning, when in 1,300 fathoms, Sir Charles 
enters : 

Drum stopped ; brakesman asleep ; found Suter doing 
Bank's work, having been up all the time himself in the hold. 
Luckily it was seen to in time. 

The latter part of the line was laid in a heavy sea, and 
there were several troubles from broken outer wires ; but 
the laying to Port Mahon was successfully finished at 

These cables worked well for many years. 

1 Some twenty years later Sir Charles was again associated with 
Count d'Oksza in connection with cables from Spain to the Canary 
Isles, as will be seen in subsequent pages, 


Proposed Permanent Exhibition in Paris 

in\URING the early part of 1860, Bright was actively 
*^ engaged on a project brought to him by some lead- 
ing Frenchmen, headed by Prince Napoleon, with a view to 
establishing a permanent universal exhibition in the build- 
ing erected in the Champs Elysees for the recent exhibition. 
Although a large amount of space was applied for by impor- 
tant English, French, and German firms, it was not enough 
to make it a success, or justify the promoters or Sir Charles 
in carrying out the scheme. 

At the beginning of 1860 as well as previously Charles 
Bright's time was largely taken up in furthering telegraphic 
extensions to Hanover, Denmark, the Channel Islands, and 
Normandy, on behalf of the " Magnetic '' and "Submarine" 
Telegraph Companies, who had a mutual working arrange- 
ment. The first of these cables started from the coast of 
Norfolk, and Sir Charles erected a special land line from 
Cromer to connect it with London. At that time there was 
a great deal of prejudice against overhead wires, from an 



artistic standpoint. Thus, every effort was made to render 
the work as sightly as possible. The poles were furnished 
with handsome finials, and were painted green, so as to be 
pleasant to the country eye, with a few feet of white at 
the bottom to warn vehicles by night. But still these posts 
did not meet with the approbation that was desired from 
suburban villa residents ; and the song of the wires appears 
to have acted as an irritant rather than otherwise ! The 
rustics who, like most of our country folk, had an innate 
dislike to anything novel seem to have supposed this 
humming to be occasioned by the passage of the messages ! ! 
On one occasion, when Sir Charles was inspecting part of 
the new work near Norwich, he noticed that the " ganger " 
a powerful man who rejoiced in the sobriquet " Hulks " 
had one side of his head much bruised. " Hulks " ex- 
plained that on putting up a pole opposite a villa, " the old 
gent came out of his front garden with a spade and caught 
me a clop on the head with it, so I just twisted his collar 
till his tongue came out, and then we was quite friendly - 
like ! " 

The cable from Cromer to Hanover was 280 miles in 
length. It contained two conductors, and weighed three 
tons to the mile. The line to Heligoland and Denmark was 
350 miles long, with three conductors, and was four tons per 
mile in weight. The " Magnetic " Company subscribed a 
considerable amount of the capital for these lines, on account 
of the large accession of traffic brought on their land wires in 
connection with the North of Europe. 

Many have been identified by some peculiar character- 
istic or other ; but it is doubtful whether any one has ever 

1860-1863 207 

been traced on a journey by his love of pickles, except Sir 
Charles for whom they possessed a special attraction 
through life. Sir Charles had arranged to accompany the 
above Anglo-Continental Cable Expeditions in the " Mag- 
netic " Company's interests, and was going down from town 
with Mr. Henry Clifford, who, with Mr. (afterwards Sir Samuel) 
Canning, ultimately laid the cables on behalf of Messrs. 
Glass, Elliot and Co. Somehow they missed one another, 
and Clifford arrived alone at Norwich. He made inquiries 
at the principal inn whether Sir Charles had arrived. 
Whereupon an obtuse, old-fashioned waiter said there had 
been some gentlemen, but they didn't leave their names. 
When cross-questioned as to their appearance, he said he 
thought several were tall, and perhaps fair. Failing infor- 
mation, Mr. Clifford sat down to cold beef. On asking for 
the mixed pickles, the ancient waiter replied : " Well, a 
party, what lunched here just now, finished the bottle, 
but I'll send out for some more." 

" Oh, indeed ; was he tall and fair ? " 
' Yes, sir ; and he drove away to Cromer." 
" All right," said Clifford to himself, " Sir Charles has 
gone on " ; and so it was. 

In November of the same year (1860) Mr. (now Sir) 
W. H. Preece read a paper before the Institution of Civil 
Engineers, on " The Maintenance and Durability of Sub- 
marine Cables in Shallow Water." One of the main purports 
of this paper was to point out the supreme importance of 
thoroughly surveying the bottom along the route proposed 
for a cable. Though the suggestion was somewhat scornfully 


received, the same point had been dwelt on by Sir Charles 
Bright in his evidence before the Government Committee 
on the Construction of Submarine Cables, a year pre- 
viously. 1 

Bright argued that : 

An extremely close search should be made before telegraphic 
cables were lowered into unknown depths and laid across sub- 
marine hills, gorges, and valleys, the irregularity of whose forms 
as existing between the points hitherto sounded, might prove 
to be enormous. 

He further asserted that : 

A full and proper submarine search was almost as essential 
a preliminary to a rational scheme of laying down a telegraphic 
cable, as a survey of the outlines of land was for an engineer 
before he could accurately define the best and safest route to be 
followed by a railroad. 

The result of Mr. Preece's contentions and of Charles 
Bright's statements 2 is that, nowadays, cables are designed 
to suit every depth and every bottom ; moreover, the opera- 
tion of laying a cable in a permanent manner has become a 
comparatively simple affair. 3 

Another feature of Mr. Preece's paper was a review of the 
relative merits of light and heavy sheathed cables. Bright 

1 See Blue-Book. 

2 Mr. Preece's remarks were directed in particular to the rocky 
bottoms of shallow water, whilst Sir Charles' had reference to the 
precipices which deep water undertakings have to cope with. 

3 This, however, was not destined to be so, as regards great depths, 
for some years ; for it was not till 1872 that the Thomson steel wire 
sounding apparatus was introduced, thereby rendering a close and 
accurate deep-sea survey practicable where it was not before. 

1860-1863 2og 

spoke strongly against a slight armour for rough bottoms 
or where the cable is liable to disturbances, from one cause 
or another, in shallow depths. He also argued against 
the various proposals for a cable without any iron sheathing 
for deep waters. His contention was that though such 
a cable might be readily picked up when new, it would soon 
fail to have sufficient strength for the purpose. 1 

In the early part of 1861 Sir Charles and his family moved 
to a town house, 12, Upper Hyde Park Gardens afterwards 
forming a part of Lancaster Gate. 

Retirement from Engineer ship to the Magnetic Telegraph 

About this time it became clear to Charles Bright that a 
large professional business was open to him in connection 
with the various submarine telegraphs then in contem- 
plation, and that in a consulting capacity he could turn 
time to a more profitable account than he could possibly 
do as the active Engineer-in-Chief to the British and Irish 
Magnetic Telegraph Company, the network of whose 
lines was now fairly complete. Accordingly, he relin- 
quished the latter post, and became Consulting Engineer 
instead. 2 A banquet was given in his honour by the direc- 
tors and executive staff of the Company. This formed an 
occasion for the presentation of some handsome plate, 

1 A full report of Sir Charles's remarks on this occasion were 
embodied in Appendix 4 of Vol. II. of the original biography. 

2 This position he held up to the time of the acquisition of the 
telegraphs of the United Kingdom by the State in 1870. 



in addition to an illuminated testimonial, similar to one 
he had previously received from the Atlantic Company. 

Before quitting the subject of Bright 's association with 
the " Magnetic " Company, it is thought that a few further 
reminiscences may be of interest here. When his Atlantic 
Cable work was complete, Sir Charles resumed engineering 
charge of the Magnetic system. Soon afterwards he was 
confronted with a serious trouble in connection with their 
main underground lines, stretching from Dover to London, 
and thence to Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool, with 
extensions to Scotland and Ireland. As already described, 
they were laid in 1851 and 1852, and although carefully 
protected in troughs and covered with tarred yarn, their in- 
sulation was rapidly deteriorating by the gutta-percha be- 
coming desiccated. This was found to occur in a more 
striking manner wherever laid past oak plantations, 
from some chemical action of the roots upon the ground. 
Fortunately, by the amalgamation with the " British," the 
Company was possessed of the former's Act of 1850, which 
provided powers to erect post lines along the highways. 
None of the other companies had been able to obtain this 
privilege, and it was said that the clause, when passed by the 
Committee and the House, was supposed by them to refer 
to " testing posts ! " However, it proved the salvation 
of the Magnetic Company ; for the price of gutta-percha 
had about doubled in the interval, and they could not have 
afforded to lay new underground wires. As it was, there 
was the difficulty of turning the old gutta-percha wires to 
sufficient account to pay for the new overhead system. 

This was the problem that Sir Charles had to solve. He 

1860-1863 2II 

approached the Gutta-Percha Company, who had originally 
supplied the many thousand miles of gutta-percha-covered 
wire to the Company, and who at this time had nearly a 
monopoly of the business ; but their able and astute 
manager, Mr. Samuel Statham, would make no bid for the 
old wire that at all satisfied the requirements. So Sir 
Charles set to work to strip the gutta-percha from the copper 
conductors, and by warming it up to convert it into saleable 
lumps for ordinary manufacture ; for though much of its 
insulating power was lost, it was still quite good for a 
number of trade purposes. He first tried having the 
material sliced off ; but this proved tedious and expensive. 
He then had the wires drawn through the rollers used for 
making steels for the crinoline, at that time in fashion with 
ladies. The rollers were set to the exact diameter of the 
copper wire, and the gutta-percha being compressed fell 
off on each side as it passed through. It was then made up 
into lumps and sold. In this way it realised more than 
double the price originally offered by Mr. Statham, who there- 
fore, not wanting competition in the gutta-percha market, 
bought the whole lot ! Thus the Magnetic Company were 
enabled to reconstruct their lines out of the amount secured 
for the old wires. Substituting the one system for the other 
naturally involved much consideration and care. The most 
defective sections had to be completed first, and the change 
made to the new wires bit by bit. But this arduous under- 
taking was so carefully arranged by Sir Charles and his 
able assistants, that no interruption occurred to the heavy 
business of the Company throughout the kingdom. 


Partnership with Mr. Latimer Clark 

A little later Charles Bright joined in partnership with 
Mr. Latimer Clark, M.Inst.C.E., a gentleman of great 
experience and high repute in telegraph work. He had 
been for several years the engineer of the Electric and 
International Telegraph Company. There w^as something 
singularly appropriate in this union of the engineers of the 
two largest telegraphic companies in existence, both indi- 
viduals possessing, moreover, great inventive ingenuity. 
Sir Charles Bright and Mr. Clark had both favoured heavy 
cables for shallow water in contrast to other engineers, who 
had employed light cables in small depths. 

As consulting engineers, the firm of Bright & Clark 
became at once associated with nearly all the big submarine 
cable undertakings that followed. 

The Formulation of Electrical Standards and Units 
In this same year (1861) an important paper 1 was con- 

L The object of this paper was to point out the desirability of 
establishing a set of standards of electrical measurement, and to 
ask the aid and authority of the British Association in introducing 
such standards into practical use. Four standards or units were 
considered necessary: 

(1) The unit of electro-motive force, or tension, or potential. 

(2) The unit of absolute electrical quantity, or of static electricity. 

(3) The unit of electrical current, which should be formed by the com- 
bination of the unit of quantity with time. Such, for example, as the flow 
of a unit of electricity per second. 

(4) The unit of electrical resistance, which should be the same unit 
as that of current : viz., a wire which would conduct a unit of electricity 
in a second of time. 

The necessity of the adoption of some nomenclature was also 
pointed out, " in order to adapt the system to the wants of practical 
telegraphists." See B.A. Report of Manchester Meeting, 1861. 

1860-1863 213 

tributed by Sir Charles Bright and his partner, on electrical 
standards, units, and measurements, to the British Asso- 
ciation for the Advancement of Science. This formed the 
sequel to a letter addressed by Bright to Prof. J. Clerk 
Maxwell, F.R.S., some months previously, on the whole ques- 
tion of electrical standards and units. Upon the paper above 
alluded to being read, Professor William Thomson 1 obtained 
the appointment of a committee with the object of deter- 
mining a rational system of electrical units, and to construct 
an equivalent standard of measurement. The members 
were : Professors Williamson, Wheatstone, Thomson, Miller, 
Clerk Maxwell, Dr. Matthiessen and Mr. Fleeming Jenkin. 
These were joined by Sir Charles Bright, Dr. J. P. Joule, 
Dr. Esselbach, Messrs. Balfour Stewart and C. W. Siemens. 
Later on Prof. G. C. Foster, Messrs. D. Forbes, C. F. Varley, 
Latimer Clark and Charles Hockin were added to the 
strength of the committee. 2 

The first of the British Association reports of 1862 may 
be said to have been the signal for a great advance in the 

1 Referring to this paper some years later, Lord Kelvin (then 
Sir William Thomson) said : "I may mention that a paper was com- 
municated to the British Association in 1861 by Sir Charles Bright 
and Mr. Latimer Clark, in which the names that we now have, with 
some slight differences, were suggested ; moreover, a complete 
continuous system of measurement was proposed, which fulfilled 
most of the conditions of the absolute system in an exceedingly useful 
manner. To Sir Charles Bright and Mr. Latimer Clark, therefore, 
is due the whole system of nomenclature in electrical units and 
standards ; we are consequently very greatly indebted to them in 
the matter." (See " Thomson on Electrical Units of Measurement," 
Proc. Inst. C.E., 1883.) 

2 See Reports of Electrical Standards, edited by Fleeming Jenkin, 


methods of testing submarine lines electrically. The work 
of the committee lasted eight years, and was not entirely 
finished until the close of the year 1869. As the result of 
its labours, we have the system of electro-magnetic absolute 
units from which are derived the ohm, ampere, farad, volt, 
and coulomb, being a system of nomenclature suggested 
by Sir C. Bright and Mr. Latimer Clark in their paper of 
I86I. 1 This system was confirmed by an International 
Congress, in 1881, at which every civilised nation was re- 
presented. The creation of these standards has substituted 
perfectly definite and identical quantities for the many 
arbitrary units formerly in general use among electricians, 
has introduced precise definitions in all questions of elec- 
trical measurements, and has, indeed, rendered immense 
service, both to the electrical industry and to science 

During the year 1861, Sir Charles and Mr. Clark were 
largely engaged upon experiments on gutta-percha-covered 
wire, mainly with a view to determining the influence 
which temperature had upon the insulating value of the 
gum. An exhaustive series of tests was carried out, and a 
comprehensive table of definite and reliable results compiled 
therefrom. These were supplemented by a curve and table 
of co-efficients, which are given in Bright's paper on " The 

1 In introducing the above nomenclature for electrical standards 
and units, Sir Charles and his partner enshrined the names and 
memories of some of our greatest and earliest electrical savants in 
the every-day words employed by electricians throughout the world 
in such a way as to honour them in perpetuity. It now remains 
for the revered name Kelvin to be turned to similar account. 

1860-1863 215 

Telegraph to India," 1 reproduced in the Appendices to Vol. 
II of the original biography. In these experiments the 
wire was subjected to water at temperatures varying from 
freezing point to over 100 Fah. The results obtained gave 
a law, which forms the basis of present-day practice, for arriv- 
ing at the electrical resistance independent of temperature 
influence. This law pointed to an enormous increase in 
value on a cable being submerged in the cold water (a few 
degrees above freezing point), at the depths of the ocean. 

Corresponding investigations were made subsequently 
regarding the effect of pressure on the insulation in order 
to arrive at the difference after submergence at the bottom 
of the sea ; and here again a satisfactory formula was 
attained. A similar improvement was revealed, where 
cables are laid at great depths, and also where time has a 
maturing effect upon the insulation. 2 

In 1862, Sir Charles Bright took out patents in connection 
with the outer coverings of submarine cables. By this inven- 
tion two layers of hemp or other yarn are wound round the 
sheathing wires in opposite directions, each layer being satu- 
rated with a preservative adhesive compound of bitumen 
and tar. It was thought that the layers of yarn and bitu- 
minous composition so applied would effectually check 

1 " The Telegraph to India, and its Extensions to Australasia and 
China," by Sir Charles Tilston Bright, M.P., M.Inst.C.E. Minutes 
Proc. Inst. C.E., vol. xxv. (1865). 

2 For further particulars, see a paper on " The Physical and Elec- 
trical Effect of Pressure and Temperature on a Submarine Cable 
Core," by Charles Bright, F.R.S.E., M.I.E.E. Journal Inst. E,E,, 
vol. xvii. 



the oxidation of the iron wires by acting as a more or less 
waterproof, and even air-tight, casing ; and so it proved. 
It was soon found that such an outer cover also behaved 
as an excellent binder for the sheathing wires, and in holding 
them in place avoided the trouble caused by broken wires 
getting adrift. 

Previously, in 1858, Mr. Latimer Clark, Mr. Frederick 
Braithwaite, and Mr. George Preece had collaborated in 
a patent of which Mr. Clark was the main author for a 
covering of hemp and asphalte for retarding the decay of 



the zinc coating the iron wires. The cable itself was drawn 
through hot asphalte heated up by charcoal fires. This plan 
was tried on a short cable to the Isle of Man in 1859. ^ 
however, gave a good deal of trouble during manufacture, the 
insulation becoming seriously damaged by the process : as 
a result no further use was made of that particular method 
of protection. On the other hand, Sir Charles Bright's 
system generally commended itself. It was at once adopted 
in the construction of the Pembroke and Wexford (Irish) 
cable, and has been in universal use ever since. Though, 
after an extensive series of experiments, Bright arrived at 

1860-1863 217 

an improved composition, the main feature in his device 
was the method of application. Here, instead of the cable 
passing through the hot compound, the latter, whilst yet 
plastic, is poured over it in streams by an elevator from a 
tank. Furthermore, inasmuch as this process is performed 
simultaneously with the laying on of the hemp, or jute, 
yarns by having the shaft of the compound apparatus 
geared to the rest of the cable machine the delay of the 
double manufacture is saved. Moreover, by Bright's de- 
vice, in the event of a stoppage the supply of compound 


v _ * 

^ / *" **V 

A V : ) 

x x ^ / 


A is a steam-jacketted tank, with molten, bituminous compound ; B B, the elevator 
usually an endless chain worked with pulleys dipping into the tank. The cable passes under 
the chain, from which the compound drops, by gravity, in a continuous stream, into the inclined 
chute D, and so on to the cable. 

to the outside of the cable is immediately and auto- 
matically arrested, thereby avoiding damage to the insula- 
tion as in the case of the hot compound continuing to flow 
over the cable. A part of Sir Charles' method consisted in 
the cable being finally at one and the same operation 
drawn between semi-circular rollers under a stream of cold 
water. By this, the coating is thoroughly pressed into all 
the interstices of the yarns and wires, rendering the 
outside surface hard, even, and smooth thereby reducing the 
co-efficient of friction during cable-laying or recovery opera- 


tions. The success attending this process subsequently 
included in every submarine cable specification was so 
great that up to the time of the expiry of Bright's patent 
it had yielded nearly 30,000 to Sir Charles and his 

The same patent also included an improved apparatus for 
curbing the currents sent into a cable for signalling purposes. 
This was an arrangement whereby the superabundant (remain- 
ing) part of each charge communicated to the line was to be 
neutralised, thereby overcoming the effect of inductive re- 
tardation to the signal following after in fact clearing the 
line so as to increase the working speed of the cable. 



The Telegraph to India 

Retrospect and Preparations 

N 1862 Sir Charles Bright was called upon by Govern- 
ment to carry out another important achievement of 
his life the first successful and permanent telegraph to 
India, and the pioneer cable, electrically speaking. 

Let us take a glance at the situation at the moment. In 
the first place it was considered that the Governments of 
England and India should be brought into the speediest 
possible method of communication. It was, indeed, thought 
that in this era of the telegraph the countries could not 
any longer be allowed to be separated by thirty days of 
postal service, when, by the agency of the wires, but a few 
hours need divide them. The imperative necessity for 
electric communication between this country and the 
greatest of her dependencies had actually been felt for years, 
not only by Government on political grounds but by 
the great mercantile community whose enormous business 
was dependent upon our Eastern possessions. So urgently 
was this desired and, after the Mutiny, so essential was 



the telegraph deemed to be for the preservation of our 
position that in 1858 the Red Sea and India Telegraph 
Company had been formed (with a guarantee from Govern- 
ment on a capital of 800,000) to lay a line from Suez 
down the Red Sea to Aden, and thence to Karachi, with 
intermediate stations at Kassiri, Suakin, Hillainich and 

Messrs. R. S. Newall & Co. were the contractors for the 
construction and laying of this line, Messrs. Gisborne & 
Forde the engineers, and Messrs. Siemens & Halske the 
electricians. Though for a very different depth and bottom, 
the type of cable adopted was somewhat similar to that of 
the first Atlantic line. The route was not sufficiently sur- 
veyed by soundings, and the cable was too slightly made 
for the purpose. It was once spoken of as being " like 
running a donkey for the Leger ! " Being laid taut, and 
here and there across reefs, although messages were trans- 
mitted through each separate section they broke down in 
a few days, and were never worked together in one con- 
tinuous length as originally intended. 1 

A new Company was formed in 1862 for restoring com- 
munication and working the lines of the " Red Sea " Com- 
pany. This was called the Telegraph to India Company, 
to which Sir Charles acted as technical adviser ; and his 
report on the subject is given in Appendix 6 of Vol. II 
of the original biography. 

Though the cables broke down, the land line from Alex- 

1 For further particulars of this cable, see Submarine Telegraphs ; 
also Old Cable Stories Retold, by F. C. Webb, M.Inst.C.E., The 


andria to Suez was worked by the Telegraph to India 
Company for a number of years. Subsequently, however, 
it was transferred, w r ith the Egyptian concessions, to the 
British Indian Submarine Telegraph Company, on the 
latter's formation in 1870. The Telegraph to India Com- 
pany was then voluntarily wound up, after paying a fairly 
regular dividend of 3 per cent. 

Under the somewhat hasty, and perhaps careless, con- 
ditions agreed to by Government with the " Red Sea " 
Company, the interest on the outlay became a charge on 
the country (till 1908) to the extent of 36,000 per annum. 
This failure was naturally a heavy blow to submarine 
telegraph extension, and a great discouragement to the 
authorities. Yet the demand for the Indian Telegraph 
became more and more pressing. The want was no longer 
merely confined to commercial or political interests : it 
was eminently national. The Turkish Government were 
constructing a land line between Constantinople and 
Baghdad, via Scutari, Angora, Diarbekir, and Mosul ; 
and an agreement was come to by Her Majesty's Govern- 
ment with the Sublime Porte for special wires, as well as 
for the extension of the telegraph overland from Baghdad 
to the Shat-el-Arab at the head of the Persian Gulf. 

Partly at the instance of the late Sir Henry Rawlinson, 
K.C.B., it was at first proposed to erect a land line along 
the Mekran coast of the Persian Gulf ; but Lieutenant- 
Colonel Patrick Stewart, R.E., 1 who had been especially 

1 The " Pat Stewart " of Mutiny fame. 



despatched to Persia regarding the matter, reported against 
its practicability, on reaching England in the summer 
of 1862. Meanwhile Mr. Latimer Clark had returned 
after fully investigating the condition of the damaged and 
unworkable cable between Suez, Aden, and Karachi. Mr. 
Clark's investigations went to show that it was impossible to 
put any of the sections into working order. 

In view of these authoritative reports, the Government, 
together with the India Council, determined upon laying a 
submarine cable between the mouth of the Shat-el-Arab 
the river uniting the Tigris and Euphrates in their flow 
into the Persian Gulf and Gwadur (or Chubar), the most 
westerly point to which it was then found practicable to 
extend the Indian land telegraphs. It was afterwards re- 
solved in consequence of the workmen on the Mekran 
land telegraph being molested by the natives to extend the 
submarine cable from Gwadur to Karachi, thereby avoiding 
the vandalism of barbarous and then unconquered tribes. 
It was determined to divide the line into sections, with a 
station at Gwadur on the Mekran coast, another near Cape 
Mussendom on the Arabian coast, at the entrance to the Gulf, 
and a third at Bushire, on the coast of Persia. 

Notwithstanding the previous careful surveys by the 
officers of the Indian Navy the character, as well as the 
depth, of the bottom being of so much importance in regard 
to the permanence of a submarine cable a special survey 
was made during 1862, by Lieutenant (now Captain) A. W. 
Stiffe, of what was then called the Bombay Marine. On the 
whole, the bed of the Persian Gulf was found to be quite 
favourable to the deposition of a cable. 



The Indian Government arranged to assist the Turks 
in connection with the erection of the land line between 
Baghdad, Bussorah, and the mouth of the Shat-el-Arab, 
and also agreed with the Persian Government after a 
survey by Major Goldsmid 1 for the construction of an 
alternative land line from the Turkish frontier to Ispahan, 
Teheran, Shiraz, and Bushire on the Persian Gulf, where 

(Age 32) 

connection would also be made with the cable. Besides 
these junctions a cross line was to be made to provide 
against interruption, linking Baghdad with Teheran via 

The Government appointed Colonel Stewart as director 

1 Of the Madras Staff Corps, and afterwards Major-General Sir 
F. J. Goldsmid, K.C.S.I., C.B. 


of this great length of line. They also appointed Messrs. 
Bright & Clark the engineers for the construction, electrical 
testing, and laying of the cable, Sir Charles Bright under- 
taking the personal supervision of the entire work. 


The Design, Construction, and Testing of the Persian Gulf 


Shortly after Colonel Stewart had come over to England, an 
order for the core was placed with the Gutta-Percha Company, 
of Wharf Road, whilst the contract for the rest of the 
manufacture fell to Mr. W. T. Henley, of North Woolwich. 

The Persian Gulf was one of the greatest habitats of the 
teredo. This little "auger worm" likes, and lives on, 
woody matter, besides having an affection for yarns and 
gutta-percha. Indeed, it appears to regard the submarine 
cable as a sort of private larder provided for its immediate 
use. The outer spiral wires of a cable are sure to open out 
slightly under the strain of laying, leaving small crevices, of 
which this boring worm takes advantage. He then works his 
way through the yarn and gutta-percha, to the copper 
conductor thus creating an electrical leak through the 
hole bored in the insulation of the cable. The teredo 
was, in fact, at that time the deterrent of telegraphs in 
warm climates. With a view, then, to defeating the ravages 
of this objectionable little creature, Sir Charles Bright 
added a proportion of powdered silica (made by grinding 
calcined flints) to the outer covering compound already 
referred to. This addition was found to effectually damage 


the boring tool of the teredo, and thus frustrate his incur- 
sions. 1 

We now come to the improvements introduced in the 
conductor of this line. In the earliest submarine cables the 
copper conductor was formed of solid wire, as in subterranean 
lines ; but in later years the use of a strand of seven copper 
wires had been introduced, it being seen that a weak spot in a 
single wire would interfere with the working of the line, while 
it was not likely that seven separate wires would develop 
flaws at the same point. A stranded conductor had, however, 
the disadvantage of presenting a greater surface for a given 
weight (and resistance) of copper than the solid wire ; 
thus the retardative efforts of induction were proportionately 

To obviate the latter defect, a conductor built up of 
segmental copper bars, with an outer embracing tube, 
was adopted for this cable. To quote Sir Charles' words : 
' The result of experiments upon this form of conductor, 
compared with a strand made of the same copper and of the 
same gauge, showed that the new device preserved equal 
mechanical properties, coupled with the best form for 
electrical requirements." 2 Less inductive retardation 
represented greater speed of message transmission through 
the conductor of the cable, thereby imbuing it with a 
higher earning power. 

1 For further particulars, vide Note on " Telegraphic Communi- 
cation between England and India : its Present Condition and 
Future Development," by Charles Bright, F.R.S.E. M.I.E.E. 
(Society of Arts Journal, vol. xlii). 

2 The Telegraph to India, by Sir Charles Tilston Bright, M.P., 
M.Inst.C.E. (Mins. Proc. Inst. C.E., vol. xxv., 1865-6). 


The new segmental conductor weighed 225 Ib. to the 
nautical mile. It gave a good deal of trouble not to say 
expense in construction l ; for instance, even when drawn 
dow r n to wire, the joints entailed were very numerous. 

Special care was taken to ensure the purification of 
the copper used. The lowest limit of specific conductivity 
allowed for the copper was 76, what was then known as 
" pure galvano-plastic copper " being taken at 100. The 
mean conductivity of the whole line was thus raised to 
nearly 90 per cent. In many of the older submarine cables, 
which were laid before this point had received attention, 
the conductivity had come out as low as 30 and 40. 

Let us now turn our attention to the insulation of the con- 
ductor. In testing this during manufacture certain novel 
precautions were taken. The apparatus was much more 
delicate than any hitherto employed for the purpose, and the 
testing of joints was first carried out on this occasion. The 
joints made in the insulating material during manufacture, 
and in the finished core, had always been the subject of con- 
siderable anxiety to those engaged in the supervision of 
submarine telegraphs, as although the loss on a single joint 
might be so small as hardly to affect the tests obtained 
upon a considerable length, yet dearly-bought experience 
had shown that the defect might contain within it the seeds 
of a serious fault hereafter. 

Then, again, it was on this enterprise that condensers were 
employed for the first time in cable testing. These were 

1 The result is that we now adopt modifications of this principle 
for the conductors of our ocean cables as, for example, the excellent 
device of the late Sir William Siemens. 


formed of plates of mica, coated on each side with tinfoil, and 
having a standard capacity equal to that of one mile of the 
Persian Gulf core. These were found very permanent in 
practice, and most convenient for use. The measurements 
were taken after one minute's electrification, by observing the 
swing of the suspended needle of a galvanometer, and the 
extreme variations in the several coils did not exceed 8 per 
cent, above or below the average capacity. From the above 
data it was easy to ascertain the inductive capacity of any 
portion of the cable with great accuracy. Thus, in one 
interruption which occurred during the laying of the cable 
from the copper wire having broken within the gutta- 
percha whereas the distance of the fault was calculated 
at 9233 miles off, it actually proved to be 92*4 miles distant. 
During the manufacture of the core, advantage was 
taken of the facilities afforded at the Gutta-Percha Com- 
pany's works for trying a series of experiments as to the 
effect of temperature upon the conducting power of gutta- 
percha and india-rubber. It had long been known that 
the resistances of these substances varied greatly with 
changes of temperature ; but the exact law had not hitherto 
been satisfactorily determined. 

The manufacture and testing of the entire line was under 
the personal supervision of Sir Charles Bright. The testing 
of the core at the Gutta-Percha Company's works was 
carried out, with every precaution which skill and experi- 
ence could suggest, by Mr. J. C. Laws (the senior of Messrs. 
Bright & Clark's staff), assisted by Mr. Frank Lambert. 
These gentlemen who had previously served Sir Charles 


on the Atlantic expeditions were also to look after the 
electrical welfare of the line during submergence. 

As has frequently been stated, 
this was the first cable which passed 
through a complete system of 
electrical testing during the various 
stages of manufacture. It must 
be remembered, however, that it 
was almost the earliest undertaking 
of the sort following after the sug- 
gestion of Sir Charles and his part- 
ner at the British Association for 
definite electrical units and 
standards and a proper system of 
nomenclature. It was, indeed, the 
first occasion on which the core 
was tested in separate (three-mile) 
lengths under water ; and a wholly 
unprecedented degree of insulation 
was obtained. 

The external protecting coats, 
already referred to, were then ap- 
plied. In the end this constituted 
one of the most efficient and dur- 
able cables ever devised, and con- 
siderably excelled anything up to 
that time. 

The total weight of the cable was THE 


four tons per nautical mile. For (Main type) 


the shore-end portions, the sheathing wires were materi- 
ally larger, bringing the weight up to eight tons. Some 
of this contained two insulated conductors, to enable 
one sheathing to do service for the circuit each way at 
an intermediate station. 

The completed cable subsequently received a coating 
of whitewash to prevent sticking, and was then coiled 
away into tanks under cover and filled wdth water, the 
tests being continued at periodic intervals till the cable was 
shipped. 1 The immediate superintendence of this branch 
of the work was carried on, under Sir Charles' directions, by 
Mr. F. C. Webb, M.Inst.C.E., 2 assisted by Messrs. Thomas 
Alexander, J. E. Tennison Woods, T. Brasher, T. B. 
Moseley, and other members of Messrs. Bright & Clark's 

The manufacture of the core was commenced by the 
Gutta-Percha Company in February, 1863, and the 1,450 
miles of cable, weighing nearly 7,000 tons, was completed 
by Mr. Henley on November loth. This formed by far 
the heaviest length ever carried in a submarine telegraph 

It was coiled into five large sailing vessels and a 
small steamer. In addition to machinery for laying the 
line, these vessels were all fitted with iron tanks, in which 

1 This was the earliest occasion on which all the above routine 
was gone through, though now matters of common practice. 

2 Mr. Webb had been connected with many important cable 
undertakings, including the First Atlantic. He was now the chief 
of the engineering staff of Messrs. Bright & Clark. 


the cable was coiled, besides a small engine and a Gwynne's 
pump for filling and emptying the tanks. The ships were 
severally in charge of Messrs. E. Donovan, E. D. Walker, 
T. B. Moseley, J. E. T. Woods and J. P. E. Crookes as 
electricians, who kept up tests of the cable on each ship 
during the voyage round the Cape to Bombay. Some 
interesting observations were taken of the currents pro- 
duced by the action of the earth's magnetism on the coils 
of cable at each roll of the vessel. These were most evident 
in the higher latitudes, became invisible at the equator, and 
were in the reverse direction in the southern hemisphere. 
In rough weather they were sufficiently powerful to inter- 
fere seriously with the measurements of the conductivity 
of the copper wire. 

Accompanied by Colonel Patrick Stewart, R.E., Captain 
Colvin Stewart (a younger brother), Dr. Esselbach, Mr. 
Hirz and Mr. Mance, 1 Sir Charles Bright proceeded to the 
scene of action by the overland route to Bombay towards 
the end of November (1863). 

1 Afterwards Sir H. C. Mance, C.I. E., M.Inst.C.E., Past President 
of the Institution of Electrical Engineers. 


Laying the Cable 

An outline of the work to be done will form the best 
preliminary here. Karachi was the sea terminus of the 
existing Indian telegraph system (to Bombay, Calcutta, 
Madras, and -other main towns) at the north-west corner 
of the great peninsula. Fao, at the head of the Persian 
Gulf, was the sea terminus of the Turkish telegraph system, 
connected with the systems of Continental Europe and, 
through them, with England. Karachi is distant from 
Fao about 1,250 miles. It was intended to join the two by 
submarine cable laid in four sections, in round numbers 
as follows : Karachi to Gwadur, 300 miles ; Gwadur to 
Mussendom 400 miles ; Mussendom to Bushire, 400 miles ; 
Bushire to Fao, 150 miles. The first section to be laid 
was that from Gwadur to Mussendom ; and the ships 
immediately engaged were to rendezvous on February 4th, 
at the former station, whence operations would com- 

As soon as a portion of the telegraph fleet arrived at 
Bombay, Sir Charles and Colonel Stewart, R.E., joined them 
by embarking on the steamer Coromandel, the flag-ship 
of the expedition. 

The following letter from Charles Bright to his wife about 
this time gives an idea of the way the time was passed 
after reaching India (on December loth), whilst waiting 
for the ships : 

BOMBAY, December zSth, 1863. 

... I write this without having yet heard from you since 
the letter I got at Marseilles. . . . 


I keep very well. The climate is delightful. ... I have had 
one trip into the interior since I wrote by last mail, to a place 
called Matherau, about sixty miles hence, where I went with an 
old schoolfellow, Baker, 1 who found me out here. He has a 
bungalow there, and I stayed a couple of days with him. It was 
harder work, though, than I had expected, but well worth the 

First, I went to a place called Narel by train ; then I had 
to get on horseback and ride nine miles up hill. At the top, 
about 2,000 feet above the sea, is an extraordinary range of 
mountains, with the most wonderful view I have ever seen in the 
extent of country they command. All the hillsides are covered 
with trees and beautiful wild shrubs and flowers, with bridle 
paths winding about in every direction. It is much cooler there 
than here, and in the hot season numbers of people go to live 
there as a sanatorium. 

Bombay itself has little to recommend it, but the people 
are very hospitable. On Christmas Eve I dined with the 
Governor, 2 but on Christmas Day I was at the hotel not the 
place I should have chosen. 

For the last week I have been very busy, owing to the first of 
our ships, the Marion Moore, having arrived. (They are very 
slow here in getting work done.) You will be glad to hear that 
the cable in her is all in excellent order. I expect to get off in 
a few days to commence work. I shall write before leaving, 
but the letter will not go till the next mail, about a fortnight 

1 When Mr. Baker came to call on Bright, the latter did not 
recognise him at first. Baker then reminded Sir Charles that they 
had been interrupted in a fight when at school, whereupon Charles 
said, " Let's finish it now ! " If they had, the prospects would 
have been very different ; for though Baker was the bigger boy as 
schoolfellows, it was now all the other way, the subject of our 
biography standing 6 ft. i in. in his boots. 

2 The late Sir Bartle Frere, G.C.B., G.C.S.I. 


My movements are rather uncertain, and it is probable that 
you may not get any letter by the mail following the next, as I 
shall most likely be on the Mekran coast without any means of 
sending a letter ; but it is also possible that I may come back 
here, as we have an extra steamer which I can use for the pur- 
pose, if my plans then require it. ... 

The above was followed up a few days later by the follow- 
ing :- 

BOMBAY, January ist, 1864. 

... I did not get your letter of the 2nd until the 3Oth, the 
mails being delayed and very late. Captain Dayman, of H.M.S. 
Hornet, an old Atlantic friend of mine (he took the soundings 
in 1857 in the Cyclops, and commanded the Gorgon afterwards 
in our trip in 1858), is going to Aden about some risings of the 
Arab tribes between there and Mocha, and I take this chance 
of writing. 

I have not much fresh information as to my doings or move- 
ments to communicate, except to tell you of the delight my 
dearest's letter gave me after waiting so impatiently for it, as I 
have spent my days principally at the Government dockyard 
here, and on board the Marion Moore, since I wrote. 

I don't find folks work so well, either at the head or foot of 
departments, here as in England, and I have been very savage 
at the delays I find in getting things clone. The climate, I sup- 
pose, has its effect on people after a long stay, or else they don't 
like working between Christmas and the new Year. Whatever 
the cause, I am still more aggravated to find that there is general 
holiday from to-day (Friday) to Tuesday next. This has delayed 
me so much that I shall now probably await the arrival of the 
second ship, the Kirkham, which left on September nth, and 
ought to be here in a few days. 

This will be a great saving of time ultimately, as I shall 
have the two ships towed on to the scene of action together, but 
I am so tired of Bombay having seen nearly everything and 


everybody that I am eager to get off, and to work. The day 
I got your letter I had an engagement to go to the Governor's, 
to meet the Ranee Begum of Bhopal at a sort of evening levee, 
so I had only just time to read your dear letter and be off, leaving 
my business letters and Robert's to be read afterwards ; and the 
newspapers sent me from the office (which I read with great 
appetite) kept me afterwards till past four, having got back 
from the Governor's at half-past twelve. The party at the 
Governor's was full of interest to me much more so than his 
dinner-party before, which was subdued and ceremonial- a bad 
feature in dinner-parties. 

Her Royal Highness the Begum is, of course, looked upon as 
a great personage, for she stuck to us throughout the Mutiny, 
while all her relatives were against us. She has, therefore, been 
made a Knight of the Star of India. To look upon, she is a little 
dried-up, brown, loud-voiced thing. When I was presented to 
her exalted Majesty, she shook hands very cordially ; and, as 
Sir Bartle Frere translated her lingo, said " she knew all about 
me, and about telegraphs too ! " so I did not think it needful 
to give her any further information on the two subjects. She 
had some important Indian personages with her. Her son-in- 
law, the Maharajah of something or another, was a great swell, 
with gold headpiece, gold-cloth clothes, but no shoes or stockings 
(according to the native custom here), and his feet and ankles 
did not look a good finish. A lot of meaner stars male and 
female of the native sort, made up the suite. 

The room, a very grand and well-proportioned one, was filled 
up with ladies in full dress, and officers of every kind and colour 
of uniform, which made the scene quite amusing to me, if only 
from its novelty. . . . 

On the Marion Moore and Kirkham reaching Bombay 
with sufficient cable for the section between Gwadur and 
Mussendom, Bright took charge ; and, after erecting the 
machinery on deck for paying out the cable, they were 


towed to Gwadur by the Zenobia and Semiramis, two power- 
ful paddle-wheel steamers of the Government. They 
anchored after seven days' cruise, and were joined by 
H.M. Gunboat Clyde, and also found the rest of the fleet 
awaiting them, a few days in advance of the appointed time. 
Gwadur is a small Beloochee town erected on a sandy 
isthmus between two very lofty and precipitous sandstone 
ranges. The inhabitants are neither Arab, Persian, nor 

(From a sketch by Sir Charles Bright) 

Beloochee, but seem to be a mixed race, possessing few of 
the distinctive qualities of either but their colour, their 
dirt, and their general dislike of work. 

Having landed the shore end, Sir Charles commenced 
on February 4th, 1864, laying the cable towards Mussendom, 
on the Arabian side of the Persian Gulf, from the Kirkham, 
in tow of the Zenobia, the screw-steamer Coromandel 
(with Colonel Stewart on board) piloting the course. 


The expedition skirted along near the mountainous 
cliffs which bound the Mekran coast, and for the purposes 
of description we will now follow the records of an eye- 
witness, Mr. J. E. Tennison Woods, who acted as special 
correspondent to the Daily Telegraph : 

1 Nothing could exceed the perfect regularity with which the 
arrangements acted. The cable uncoiled itself with absolute 
freedom from the hold, and the bituminous covering, instead of 
proving an embarrassment on account of its sticking together, 
was found to be a positive advantage in keeping the cable from 
springing out of its place, and in preventing the wires which 
occasionally get broken in passing over the drum from escaping 
and fouling the machinery, a species of accident not un- 
common in paying out cables unprovided with such protection. 

There are always considerable difficulties attendant upon 
paying out cable from a ship towed by a steamer. In the first 
place, it is impossible to stop the ship's way, alter her course, 
or, indeed, to do anything in case of an emergency, without going 
through the laborious and, at best, very uncertain method 
of signalling either by lamps or flags. This difficulty was to a 
great extent overcome by an ingenious adaptation of the Morse 
alphabet (as used by all the telegraph companies) to semaphore 
and lamp signals. At night it was effected with a bull's eye 
lantern, the shutter of which is carried on the end of a small 
lever. The duration of time the light is exposed is made to 
represent the "dot" and "dash" of the Morse code. With such 
skill and rapidity were these instruments used on board both 
the Kirkham and Zenobia that the most complicated messages 
were exchanged by flashes of light between the steamer and the 
ship in tow, at the rate of some twenty words a minute ; whereas 
by means of the Marryat code it would be next to impossible 

1 Daily Telegraph, article on " The Anglo-Indian Electric Line," 
March loth, i 864. 


to transmit a message of twenty words in less than half an hour. 1 
The system of testing adopted during the submersion by Mr. 
Laws, the chief electrician, and his assistant, Mr. Lambert, was so 
perfectly contrived that hardly a minute elapsed during which 
the line was not under electrical examination. 2 The test for 
insulation was kept on constantly, the current being reversed 
on the ship every half-hour. For testing the continuity of the 
conductor a condenser was charged from the cable end every 
five minutes, and then discharged, thus giving a slight and sudden 
deflection on the ship's galvanometer. 3 Thus the least fault 
or injury occurring during the process of submersion would 
be detected before it was too late to remedy the defect. 
Everything, indeed, went so smoothly that Sir Charles Bright 
and his assistant engineers had little to do but to see that 
the already perfect arrangements were adhered to. The cable 
was paid out at from 5 J to 6 knots a rate just sufficiently in 
excess of that of the ship to allow the line to accommodate itself 
to the inequalities of the bottom. 

The Kirkham finished paying out her portion of the cable 
on the morning of February 6th, when near Jask. The most 
troublesome part of the business the transfer of the staff, 
cable hands, stores and apparatus of the Marion Moore 
was then successfully carried out at sea, and the laying 
continued across the entrance to the Persian Gulf. 

1 This was the first cable expedition on which Morse Flag and 
Lamp signalling were made use of by day and night respectively. 

2 On this occasion the Thomson marine galvanometer was used 
for the first time. Previously, in connection with the Atlantic 
Cable, Professor Thomson had introduced his mirror speaking 
instrument ; and as it was also indeed mainly used for testing 
it was more often termed a galvanometer. 

3 The above plan, with modifications, is in very general use during 
cable-laying operations in the present day. It originated with this 


Says the Daily Telegraph correspondent : 

1 By daylight on the morning of the Qth the lofty mountains 
of the Arabian coast could be seen towering high above the morn- 
ing mist, apparently, though not in reality, close to the ships. 

The ships continued to approach the land, but no opening in 
what appeared to be an unbroken line of cliffs was visible, until 
when within hardly more than 100 yards of the shore the narrow 
entrance to Malcolm's Inlet came in sight. After passing through 
this natural portal, the ships of the squadron steamed up the 
inlet, enclosed and hemmed in on all sides by lofty and precipi- 
tous rocks several thousand feet in height. The points of land 
overlapped each other so as to form a series of lakes, which might 
vie with the wildest parts of the Highlands for savage beauty. 
As the vessels proceeded, shotted guns were fired alike to inform 
the Arabs of our approach, and to let them know that the ships 
were not defenceless. Nothing could exceed the strange effect 
of these artillery discharges, reverberating from rock to rock with 
the sound of thunder ; each gun seemed magnified by the echo 
into a broadside. 

About noon the vessels arrived at the head of the inlet, and, 
the water being very deep, anchored within a short distance of 
the shore. Several days were occupied in erecting a land line 
across the peninsula, and in selecting a suitable place for the 
erection of the tents for a temporary station here. After this, 
on February I3th, the end of the cable was landed at this, the 
hottest region on earth, and electrical communication opened 
with Gwadur, distant by cable 370 miles. 

The line proved to be in splendid order, and capable of 
transmitting messages at the rate of twenty-five words per 
minute a speed quite unprecedented in a submarine cable 
of such length. The first message transmitted was to Sir 

1 " The Anglo-Indian Electric Line." Ibid, 


Charles Bright himself, conveying the news from England 
of the birth of his son Charles. It ran thus : From Mr. 
Walton, 1 Karachi, 4th February, 3.7 p.m., to Sir Charles 
Bright, Gwadur.' I send you the following from The Times 
of 2nd January, in case it may interest you. 

On December 25th, at 12, Upper Hyde Park Gardens, Lady 
Bright, of a son." 

After this, communication was maintained with Bombay 
and the rest of India throughout the laying of each cable 

H.M.S. Sinde with Colonel Goldsmid, who had surveyed 
the Mekran coast and the Clyde arrived on the I3th. The 
Zenobia then left with the Marion Moore for Bombay. 
Colonel Stewart, Sir Charles Bright, and Colonel Disbrowe, 
the Political Resident (or Agent) at Muscat, remained at 
Mussendom, to arrange difficulties with the Arabs, pending 
the arrival of the Tweed and Assay e with 735 miles of cable 
to continue the work. More than a month was spent here, the 
Arabs giving a good deal of trouble throughout. In the words 
of Colonel Goldsmid : " Even the fishermen were reluctant 
to bestow their friendly offices on comparative strangers 
without at least the guarantee of some substantial return 
for the privilege they considered they were granting." 

One of the expedition, in corresponding for The Times 
of India, wrote with regard to the experiences off Mussen- 
dom : 

1 Mr. H. Izaak Walton was the Director of the Mekram Coast 

2 See Telegraph and Travel, by Sir F. J. Goldsmid, C.B., K. C.S.I. 
(Macmillan & Co., 1874). 


It seems very doubtful whose territory this barren country 
is in. Even the inhabitants do not appear to know, some speak- 
ing of a Sheik named Ben Suggar, of Ras el Kymer, as their 
rightful ruler, while others look upon the head of their villages as 
" without superiors on earth," and responsible to God alone ! 

The Arabs soon began to flock off to the ships in very original- 
looking boats, and became most pressing and troublesome in 
their familiarities ; but as it was highly important to secure good~ 
will for the sake, of the electricians, signallers, and others who were 
to be on shore in charge of the " repeating " station, they were 
treated with the utmost kindness, and no effort was spared to 
propitiate them by presents of rice, sugar, coffee, etc. 

Evidently they do not understand the meaning of quid pro quo : 
for when asked to assist in landing stores, pitching tents, and 
building one or two wooden huts, though promised liberal pay- 
ment in money or food for doing so, they showed no alacrity to 
close with the offer. The old plan of paying a few rogues well 
to watch the rest has succeeded perfectly hitherto, the charge of 
all the stores landed having been entrusted to about a dozen 
Arabs. The policy thought best is to secure the goodwill of 
the leading men by making it their interest to treat our people 
well. Great difficulty is, however, experienced in finding out 
who are the real chiefs, for the local politics are most intricate ; 
and every now and then the knots into which they get are so 
complicated that the sword is deemed the only means of solution ! 

Here we will again quote the Daily Telegraph l : - 
The aspect of the place accorded well with the known char- 
acter of its inhabitants, who are wild and savage in the extreme. 
These intricate and tortuous passages running as they do into 
the very centre of the mountain fastnesses are indeed well 
calculated to shelter and protect the desperate hordes of pirates 
who inhabited them a few years ago under the chief of Ras el 
Kymer, the Sultan Ben Suggar. What the inhabitants were 

The Anglo-Indian Electric Line." Ibid. 



then, so they are now in disposition. They are no longer open 
pirates, because piracy does not pay. The unremitting vigilance 
of the Indian navy ships has rendered that occupation even more 
precarious than the uncertain pearl fishery. But these men are 
truculent and fierce, and following out their old traditions 
would always rather bully for an advantage than obtain it in 
any other way. 

From the first they showed strong signs of objection to 
the expedition ; but shortly after the arrival a curious 
incident occurred. A crowd of these ruffians had assumed 
a threatening attitude on the landing of Sir Charles with 
but a small escort. Having, however, read that Free- 
masonry was current among the Arabs, and being a member 
of the craft, it occurred to him to try them with a well- 
known sign. They exhibited some astonishment for a 
moment ; but on its repetition several answered the sign, 
and at once became warm friends, though their demon- 
strations of fraternal affection involved some slightly un- 
pleasant hugging with not over fragrant " brothers " ! 

There can be no doubt that when, as in this instance, the 
masonic signs, symbols and fellowship are found established 
in the desert wilds of the East, the craft is much more widely 
spread over the globe than most people even Freemasons 
have believed. At all events it proved a good thing to 
voyage with, in a very out-of-the-way and queer place a 
couple of thousand miles or so from what we deem civilisation. 
The same masonic formula being current among a most 
truculent race of predatory Arabs, in the far south-east 
corner of Arabia, is certainly a striking instance of the 
widely-spread character of Masonry. 

This curious demonstration of brotherly love did not, 


however, extend beyond Sir Charles, and as time wore on 
while waiting for the other cable ships, which did not 
arrive for several weeks the suspicions of the tribes 
increased, and their attitude became more and more hostile. 
They probably thought from the continued presence of the 
three ships of war that some permanent annexation was 
intended. So it was considered desirable to make some 
slight demonstration of the power (or rather powder) at 
command. The gunboat Clyde was therefore told off for 
target practice with her guns at the face of a rock close by 
the landing-place. The smashing effect upon the cliff of 
this pounding immediately mollified the people, and modified 
their views as to their powers of resistance. They had 
probably never heard a cannon fired before, but showed 
themselves now quite capable of recognising force majeure. 
But even when matters were arranged later by Colonel 
Stewart and Colonel Disbrowe, it was a case of much " back- 
shish." A sort of " durbar," or reception of chiefs, and 
distribution of presents was held. On this occasion the 
chiefs or pretended chiefs attended in all the glory 
of such state vestments as they were possessed of, and, 
after considerable chatter, filed out apparently satisfied 
with what they had received. Those who had come first 
were, however, shortly succeeded by another batch of 
claimants. But it was remarked that they came in wearing 
identically the same gorgeous robes of office as their pre- 
decessors had displayed ; and in the hurry of changing 
outside, the " borrowed plumes " didn't fit some, making 
their appearance ridiculous, and to say the least consider- 
ably diminishing the dignity of their " get-up ! " They 


were evidently sent in by the real " head men " with the 
deliberate intention of ascertaining whether by this means 
still more blackmail could not be extracted ; one was 
indeed recognised as the boatman of a sheik ! When accused 
by the interpreter of so flagrant an act of impersonation, 
they " stormed " and seemed extremely vexed at the failure 
of their attempt to "spoil the giaours " though not 
one whit ashamed at the detection of their trick. They 
shambled off crestfallen with much wagging of beard and 
jaw ! 

Of course the tribes had to be propitiated by presents 
and promises of periodical payments for safeguarding the 
staff and stations after the expedition had left ; but it 
required considerable knowledge and tact to deal with the 
right headmen, and yet not to give more than absolutely 
necessary difficult points to decide with such ruffians, 
who were quite disposed to " slit throats " on small pro- 
vocation. Notwithstanding the amicable relations thus 
temporarily established with the shore " ruffs," it was 
decided not to leave the staff and stores at their tender 
mercies on the mainland, after the squadron was withdrawn. 
A station was therefore established on a small rocky island 
nearly a mile from shore, in Elphinstone Inlet, and about a 
quarter of a mile long. Two armed hulks, the Euphrates and 
Constance, were then moored off the island, and the gunboat 
Clyde was left on guard. 

On March i8th, the expedition started for Bushire on the 
Persian side of the Gulf, the cable being laid from the Tweed 
in tow of the Zcnobia. Some very rough weather was 


encountered, and at one time it was doubtful whether Sir 
Charles would not be driven to cut and buoy the cable. 
The steamer was only able to tow the ship at a speed of two 
knots, but they managed to pull through till the storm 
abated. Afterwards the paying out was transferred to 
the sailing ship Assay e, and by daylight on March 23rd 
the snow-capped mountains some 12,000 feet high, behind 
Bushire shone in the morning sun. The anchorage was 

[From a Sketch by SIR CHARLES BRIGHT] 

reached shortly afterwards, the 430 miles laid from Mussen- 
dom being in splendid order. After, a close inspection by 
Bright, in conjunction with Colonel Stewart, the exact 
spot for landing the cable was determined, and the section 
satisfactorily put through on March 24th. 

A propos of the arrival in Bushire, the Daily Telegraph 
correspondent wrote l : 

1 "The Anglo-Indian Electric Line." Ibid. 


It is curious what changes and vicissitudes a place will see in 
the course of a very few years. It is not quite seven years since 
that these same ships anchored in the very same place for the 
purpose of landing the British force destined for the siege of 
Bushire during the Persian war. Although their present mission 
was so different, it was evident that the inhabitants did not feel 
at all certain of our pacific intentions, for it was some time before 
any boats came off. Those that did, for a long time kept clear 
of the Assaye, she having been one of the vessels most actively 
employed in the destruction of the Persian batteries in 1857 
as many a patched and torn plank in her deck testifies. 

The town of Bushire itself does not appear to have suffered 
commercially from the English bombardment. The ruined 
buildings and fortifications still remain unrepaired, but the 
material prosperity of the place has augmented manyfold. 

After the landing of the second shore end, the squadron 
started on the morning of March 26th for Fao some 150 
miles distant at the far end of the Persian Gulf, where the 
mouths of the great rivers Euphrates and Tigris converge. 

Considerable difficulty occurred in landing the shore end 
of the cable at Fao, and connecting it with the floating 
station moored off the entrance to the Tigris, owing to the 
shallowness of the water and extent of deep mud banks. 1 
When the ship had got in as far as was possible there were 
still some six to eight miles of these mud banks between 
her and the beach. Thus the cable could only be landed 
in comparatively flat-bottomed vessels. To assist in this 
work the Comet, of the Bombay Marine Service, was re- 
quisitioned. To make room for the cable, she had to disem- 

1 This was, in fact, the most arduous feature of the whole ex- 


bark her guns and coal, this operation occupying as much 
as fourteen days. The work was commenced on April 5th, 
after several days had been occupied by Sir Charles and 
Colonel Stewart in exploring the locality, so as to determine 
the course to be pursued. 

1 About five miles of cable, weighing some twenty tons, were 
distributed among ten of the largest boats belonging to the fleet. 
When something like four miles had been paid out, the boats 
grounded. Though there was very little water there was a great 
depth of mud, of about the consistency of cream. There was no 
use in hesitation, the cable must be landed at any risk, so Sir 
Charles Bright set an example to his staff and the men, and was 
the first to get out of the boat and stand up to his waist in the 
mud. This example was followed by all the officers and men 
upwards of a hundred in number who were soon wal- 
lowing in the soft yielding slush up to their chests, but still 
dragging the end of the cable with them. 2 

The progress through such a material was necessarily slow 
half swimming, half wading. It was impossible to rest for a 
moment without hopelessly sinking below the surface ; yet no 
one thought of abandoning the cable. Though it was only 
two o'clock when the party left the boats, it was nearly dark 
before the last man reached the shore. Several sank so deeply 
in places when attempting to stand upright on approaching the 
beach that they were compelled as the only practical mode of 
progression to throw themselves down and crawl like 
turtles. All were grimed with mud, and nineteen out of twenty 
were nearly naked, having left or abandoned almost every article 

1 The Times. 

2 Some idea of this performance may be gathered from our 
illustration which appeared in the Illustrated London News at 
the time from a sketch made by an eye-witness, in which Sir 
Charles is shown directing operations on the left. 



of their clothing in the effort to reach the shore. But in spite 
of obstacles the cable was landed. 

Just as the troubles of the landing party appeared to be over, 
it was found that the ships of the expedition, which were waiting 
to receive them in the Tigris, lay at the other side of a mud 
bank onlv a little less fluid than that which had just been passed, 


(From the Illustrated London News) 

and four miles in extent ! To make matters worse, a thunder- 
storm, truly tropical in its violence, was raging ; and the tide, 
which washes the banks, was rapidly rising. The party, however, 
made a dash for it, and all succeeded in reaching the ships, with 
the exception of one of the Lascars, who was overwhelmed by the 
mud and tide, and sank before assistance could reach him. The 
remainder were much exhausted some, indeed, having to be 
carried by their companions. Even when the solid part of the 
bank was reached, the cable had to be cut into mile and a half 
lengths, carried on the backs of several hundred Arabs, and then 
joined up again. 


As an instance of the kindly thoughtfulness always 
evinced by Sir Charles towards his colleagues, on the shore 
trenchings being finished, Sir Frederick Goldsmid says, 
in his interesting book, 1 alluding to Captain Bradshaw 2 
and himself !t When the superintending officers returned 
to their tent in the afternoon, they found half a dozen of 
champagne, a huge joint of wild hog, and the following 
letter in pencil 



I send a very solid piece of wild boar and some champagne 
for you and Bradshaw to drink good luck to the cable with, as 
you cannot be here. We are going to have a salute and dress 
ships at noon. Hurrah ! ! 

Yours sincerely, 

C. B. 

In the book referred to, Sir Frederick Goldsmid says much 
about the days passed on the monotonous sea shore and 
amid the dilapidated out-buildings at Fao, or Fava, a place 
barely existing but for the Indo-European Telegraph 

Swamps, flats, ditches ; here and there a dwarf tree or shrub ; 
men and things disturbed and exaggerated by a marvellous 
mirage. Such was indeed the scene at the mouth of the Shat-el- 
Arab and Khor Abdullah. The fort itself was an old tumble- 
down mud building, rising from a swamp, used mainly as a burial 

1 Telegraph and Travel. 

2 Captain Bradshaw (afterwards Vice- Admiral Richard Brad- 
shaw, C.B.) was serving as a surveying officer, and had accompanied 
the expedition on one or other of the pilot vessels. 


His diary will also be of some interest here in connection 
with a visit to this fort. He says : 

By aid of a canoe we make our way into the fort ; but on striking 
off to seaward get into a muddy dilemma. One or two of us take 
off shoes and stockings and plunge in. All very well, so far as 
it goes, for the soft mud ; but not so for the hard-baked soil, 
which cuts unmercifully into the feet. Walk some four miles 
and get well out to sea, facing our old anchorage, and seeing the 
ships about seven miles off in the Khor Abdullah. SirC. B. and 
Colonel S. out the furthest, but all have a pretty good spell. 

A fault in the Bushire-Fao cable presented itself soon 
after it had been laid ; only the very feeblest signals could 
be got through, and these only at intervals. This pointed 
to a break, or partial break, in the conductor, though 
testing perfectly up to the time of submergence. It was 
supposed afterwards based on the tests made by Mr. 
Laws that the conductor must have been broken 1 during 
the construction of the cable, the broken ends remaining in 
contact when the cable was submerged. The reduction of 
temperature, in contracting the copper, would then have 
sufficed to separate the broken ends, and so interfere with 
electric continuity. 

Sir Charles effected a repair of the defect with a rapidity 
and certainty which Colonel Stewart justly described as 
" an excellent instance of the thorough efficiency with which 
the work has been performed." 2 Colonel Stewart adds : 

1 As it happened the conductor in this section was a solid wire, 
being made before the adoption of the segmental type. It, there- 
fore, had not the advantages of greater pliability and immunity 
from complete interruption. 

2 Lieut. -Colonel Patrick Stewart to Secretary to Government. 
Bombay, June nth, 1864. 


' The position of the fault was calculated and laid down 
with a nicety which has never been surpassed. The course 
of the cable was so accurately denned by the surveying 
officers, and the vessels sent on the repairing trip so skil- 
fully navigated, that the buoy intended to show the presumed 
position of the fault was actually laid down by the Zenobia 
within less than a quarter of a mile of its true position." 

' This defect of manufacture was responsible for the only 
hitch experienced during the whole of the operations." 

The remaining section of the cable between Gwadur and 
Karachi was afterwards successfully laid by Mr. F. C. Webb, 
with Messrs. Woods, Alexander, and Moseley, out of the 
Assay e and Cospatrick, during April and May, in the absence 
of Sir Charles Bright. The latter went to Baghdad with 
Colonel Stewart, R.E., and Major Champain, R.E., 1 for the 
purpose of endeavouring to arrange for the completion of 
the land line from Fao, which had been interfered with 
by the Montefic Arabs. On this subject Colonel Stewart 
reported to the Indian Government as follows : 

So much having been completed, it remained in accordance 
with the original programme to extend the submarine line from 
Gwadur eastward to the frontier of British possessions at Ras 
Mooaree (Cape Monze), some twenty miles west of Karachi. 
We thereby rendered the vitally important link between the 
Indian system of telegraphs on the one side and those of Turkey 
and Persia on the other, more secure than would have been pos- 
sible had the efficiency of the whole chain of communication 

1 Afterwards Sir John Underwood Bateman-Champain. K.C.M.G., 
Director-in-Chief of the Indo-European Telegraph Department. 


been permitted to depend on a land line passing through such a 
country as that between Karachi and Gwadur. 

In the meantime, however, it was absolutely necessary for me 
to proceed at once to Baghdad regarding the completion of the 
line between Bussorah and Baghdad, and the introduction of 
certain essential reforms in the system of maintaining and work- 
ing the telegraph to the westward of the latter city. I was, 
therefore, obliged to make special arrangement for superin- 
tending the laying of the Gwadur-Karachi cable during my 
absence. Fortunately, the qualifications of Mr. F. C. Webb, 
the senior of Sir Charles Bright's engineering staff, were such 
that there was no need for hesitation in entrusting him with 
this duty. At the same time I was enabled to take advantage 
of Sir C. Bright's offer to accompany me to Baghdad, and to 
secure the advantage of his experience, while considering with 
Colonel Kemball the various proposals for effecting improve- 
ments in the Turkish telegraphs. 

An idea of the travellers' experiences can, perhaps, be best 
gathered from Sir Charles' letter to his wife a short time 
after their arrival at Baghdad. 

April 2$th, 1864. 

... I have come up here from the gulf with Colonel Stewart 
and Major Champain after getting all the important part of the 
cable laid most satisfactorily. The land lines hereabouts are not 
as satisfactory, but time will get them right. The Turks are 
very tiresome people to deal with, and never keep their engage- 

You will have heard of the laying of the cable. I have written 
very fully about all that to Clark at the office, and have asked him 
to give it to Robert for you to read, as you will like to do so, 
and the repetition of it would be a rather long affair. . . . After 
laying the cable to the head of the Gulf, and having a desperately 
hard job, I came up here, as all the land communication between 


this and the Gulf is at a standstill through the Turks and Arabs 
fighting together a very great drawback to us and the Turks, 
as usual, are in the wrong, and won't give way. The river Tigris, 
through which we come, is not very interesting, except from the 
associations connected with this part of Mesopotamia. 

At Korna where the Tigris and Euphrates joining form one 
river, the Shat-el-Arab is situated the supposed site of the 
Garden of Eden. Everybody here assures us it is the very garden, 
so we landed and examined it. It is full of the usual palm trees, 
dates, roses, etc., which we find everywhere here, and a dirty 
Arab village and ruined mosque, with a single minaret, of some 
pretensions as regards taste, standing. Bussorah, a little below 
Komeh, is a good-sized town. If you took Johnnie to any day 
performance at Drury Lane I see you would have a scene of the 
port of Bussorah in Sinbad the Sailor, and probably another of 
Baghdad. All the old stories in the Arabian Nights are taken 
from this part of the country, which was once the richest and 
greatest in the world. 

A little above Komeh is Ezra's tomb on the banks of the river. 
Here he lived and died after taking the Jews back from the Baby- 
lonian captivity. Baghdad where I am writing in an old- 
fashioned room looking direct over the river is a large city, some- 
thing like Cairo. There are several large mosques and long rows 
of shops under cover, in the bazaar. Still, the general effect is 
similar to the Lowther Arcade, but low, dirty, nasty smelling 
and unpaved. This bazaar is quite full of people of all kinds 
some dressed in colours, some nearly naked : I saw one man 
quite so. 

Everybody pushes and shouts, so that it is impossible to go 
there except on horseback, which, as it is only a few feet wide, 
adds to the confusion. Fancy half a dozen men on horses riding 
through Burlington Arcade full of people ! Everything is done 
here by Europeans, or persons of any importance, on horse- 
back ; and the same in Persia, as there are no carriages any- 
where or, indeed, roads wide enough for them. 

To-night I go to dine with the Pasha, in state, with all our 


party. To-morrow he dines here with Colonel Kemball, the British 
(Political) Resident, whose guests we are, and who, I must say, 
treats us exceedingly well providing rooms, horses, attendants 
in uniform and armed to go out with us, and feeding us sump- 

It is rather a treat to get ashore for a bit and lie down in a real 
bed after being " penned up " on board ship in a narrow, close 
berth not long enough for my unmanageable legs for three 
months at a stretch. 

I so like to read all you tell me of yourself and the bairns. 
I am longing to get home, and hope to catch the mail of May 24th 
from Bombay. . . . 

I shall take a long rest and be very idle when I return till the 
shooting begins. . . . 

Then I shall probably want to go to the South of France to 
look at our mines there before the winter sets in. ... 

PS. I have had some good deer and boar-shooting on the 
river-banks and on Tomb Island, but it is too hot for much exer- 

We will now return to the laying of the last section 
from Gwadur to Cape Moaree, near Karachi which was 
fully reported on by Mr. F. C. Webb, who was left in charge 
of operations. 

During this part of the work a most exciting incident 
occurred, which was described as follows in The Engineer : 

Whilst paying out cable on the evening of April 4th, with very 
little warning, the ships were struck by a tremendous squall from 
the W.N.W., accompanied by rain, lightning, and a fearful quan- 
tity of fine sand, which enveloped everything in the most solid 
darkness. So intense was the obscurity, that the Assay e was 
driven nearly on to the Zenobia ; and although she was close 
under the bows of the Assay e not a vestige of her lights could be 
perceived. Just before the total eclipse, as the squall came, the 


message, " Webb to Carpendale " : " Don't get blown into deep 
water " was sent, and then all signalling was at an end, and 
everything total darkness. Both ships " broached to " and 
headed in for the land in spite of their helms being hard up. 
The full force of the wind came on them thus, right on the beam. 
The awning of the Assay e was caught underneath by the wind, 
and carried away with a report like a gun snapping all the 
heavy iron stanchions to which the ridge-chains were secured, 
and dashing chains, etc., down on deck, fortunately without 
doing any injury to life or limb. The paying-out machinery was 
completely buried in the wreck. It is, indeed, a wonder that 
nothing happened to the cable, seeing that for some time the 
ridge- chain was actually resting on the drum of the brake, which 
was revolving at the rate of forty-five revolutions a minute. 
This was a pretty good test for the mechanical arrangements, 
which continued to act as perfectly as if the ships had only been 
going three knots instead of eight and a half. 1 

While laying the cable from Gwadur, a number of joints 
failed through air-bubbles developing, and these had to be 

On May i6th, this last section (about 250 miles) was com- 
pleted in the presence of Sir Charles Bright and Colonel 
Stewart, who had come in the Coromandel from Baghdad, 
leaving Major Champain to attend to further matters 

A land line, twenty-four miles long, had previously been 
erected from Cape Monze to Karachi, and communication 
over this the final link of the Persian Gulf cable system- 
was thus established. 

A banquet was held to celebrate the successful completion 
of the work. 

1 The Engineer, August i2th, 1864. 


After this Bright left Karachi for Bombay in the Coro- 
mandel, with Colonel Stewart and staff. 

On May 24th, Sir Charles left in the P. & O. steamer Behar, 
homeward bound, accompanied by Mr. Laws and the rest of 
his staff, with the exception of Mr. F. C. Webb, who remained 
to carry out final arrangements for the working of the line. 

Lastly, on June 24th, Colonel Stewart sailed for Constan- 
tinople, after all the various vessels, except the Amber 
Witch, had been discharged from Government employ. 

The Land Line Connecting Links 

Bright reached home during the last week of June, only 
to find his wife in a poor state of health. 

Within a few weeks the family went to a riverside cottage 
at Datchet for entire rest and change, the effect of \vhich 
was highly beneficial. Here the time was mostly spent in 
boating on the Thames, in which Sir Charles was accom- 
panied by his brother Edward and other friends. 

Very soon, however, there began to come disquieting 
news regarding the working of the line between Europe 
and the cables which had just been laid under Bright's 
immediate supervision. 

It was expected that the Turkish land line between 
Baghdad and the head of the Persian Gulf would have 
been completed simultaneously with the submersion of 
the cable ; but a considerable part of the broad tract of 
country 400 miles in extent between the ancient city 
of the Caliphs and the miserable village of Shat-el-Arab 


(at the junction between the Tigris and Euphrates) is in- 
habited by predatory Arab tribes, incessantly quarrelling 
one with another and mutually defying the Turks, their 
nominal masters. Backshish in the form of subsidies 
was the only way to quiet these rapacious vagabonds. 
It was not until the commencement of 1865 that their 
state of chronic revolt against the Turkish Government 
could be put an end to, and the line carried through. 

The arrangements eventually made by Major Champain 
with the sheiks of the troublesome Montefic tribes, for 
safeguarding the land line between Fao and Baghdad, 
were based on the rule of procedure often employed with 
eastern doctors, who only get " feed " while their patient 
is well. As described by Captain Huish : 

At every six miles an Arab guard was employed, who was 
paid 155. or i6s. per week, but this pay was stopped if anything 
happened to the telegraph. Thus, in addition to the exercise 
of his ordinary marauding propensities, this Arab received a 
handsome income ; and the guards took care that their brother 
Arabs did the telegraph no harm. 

The distance through the Turkish dominions was from Constanti- 
nople to Baghdad 1,550 miles, and thence to Fao 400 miles ; 
and it may be added that the portion most easily maintained 
was that which passed through this country of the Bedouin 

To the intense grief of Sir Charles Bright, and all taking 
part in the carrying through of this great international 
undertaking, Colonel Patrick Stewart, R.E., died shortly 
afterwards of malarial fever while on a special mission 
near Constantinople. He did not survive even to wit- 



ness the actual opening to the public of the entire Indo- 
European line, to the accomplishment of which he had so 
largely contributed and for which he had just been made 
a Companion of the Bath. 

As expressed by The Times : " Stewart had been 
largely instrumental in bringing Sir Charles Bright's 
wondrous sea cable to the head of the Persian Gulf, where 
it was joined to the land line at Fao under his supervision. 
With Sir C. Bright, he shared the honour due for this great 
achievement." Referring to Colonel Stewart in his paper 
on "The Telegraph to India," 1 Bright said: " By his 
death the country has lost an accomplished and fearless 
officer, unsurpassed in zealous devotion to his duties, and 
rarely equalled in administrative capacity." 

Colonel Stewart was succeeded by Colonel Goldsmid ; but 
on the latter receiving a special political appointment, Major 
Champain received promotion and became the Director 
General of the Indo-European Government Telegraphs. 
He had had a considerable experience with the Persian 
Telegraph system. 

It was not until the end of February, 1865, that arrange- 
ments had been so far organised as to permit of the line 
to India being opened for the transmission of public mes- 
sages, since which it has been in daily operation, carrying 
a large traffic between India and Europe. It was soon 
found, however, that the connecting wires through Tur- 
key and between Karachi and the main Indian lines at 

1 Mins. Proc. Inst. C.E., vol. xxv. 


Bombay were very badly managed. Whilst a speedy 
service was established on the four sections of cable, messages 
between India and England frequently occupied many 
days in transit over the land lines. This was partly due 
to the inefficient staff of half-castes at first employed in 
India. It was also partly due to the carelessness and in- 
dolence of the Turks, who often allowed their wires to 
be out of order for days together. The extent of Turkish 
apathy may be judged when it is stated that messages 
were frequently so changed in their order of transmission 
that those sent days after others would arrive first ! This 
came about from their being filed as they arrived one 
after another at an intermediate station, and when suffici- 
ently accumulated sent on, those at the top (the last re- 
ceived) being dealt with first ! Endeavours were soon made 
to arrange for through Turkish wires worked by English 
operators ; but so jealous was the Sultan's Government 
of interference that this reform did not receive the neces- 
sary sanction. 

With regard to this, The Times said : 

Advices just received from Baghdad and Beyrout describe 
the causes of delay in the transmission of intelligence through 
the telegraph to India, the submarine portion of which in the 
Persian Gulf was recently completed by Sir Charles Bright. It 
appears that seventy miles of the line from Bussorah to Baghdad 
are incomplete, and cannot be constructed on account of the 
distracted state of the intervening country, the Arabs having 
revolted against their Turkish masters. The Porte undertook to 
construct this portion of the telegraph through the Pashalic of 
Baghdad ; but, in consequence of hostility from the Arabs, not 
a Turk, it is said, dare venture into the district unless protected 
by a strong military force. 


Notwithstanding the above weakness in the system, 
the cable at once proved a commercial success to the 
Government ; and the traffic materially increased after 
Major Champain and a staff of " sappers " erected lines 
a year later through Persia from Bushire, so as to connect 
up with the already existing Russo-European system at 
Tiflis. In later years the Persian Gulf cable had a fresh 
feeding string ; for in 1868 the Indo-European Telegraph 
Company was formed " for promoting a more speedy 
and reliable line of communication between England and 
India than that hitherto permitted by the Turkish State 
land lines." This line passes through Germany and Lower 
Russia, a good traffic being picked up as far as Teheran, 
in Persia, where it joins the system of the Indo-European 
Telegraph Department of the Indian Government. 

Between 1864 and 1869 the Persian Gulf line was earn- 
ing at the rate of 100,000 per annum ; this, moreover, 
under the disadvantages of a bad land-line connection 
through Turkey. At the time it had the monopoly of tele- 
graphic communication with India, and it made the best 
of it. These halcyon days came to an end when the Eastern 
and Associated Companies arrived on the scene. 



Retrospection and Reminiscences 

Sir Charles Bright 's paper l dealing with the whole 
subject of this chapter, and giving a complete account of 
the undertaking, was read before the Institution of Civil 
Engineers 2 on November i4th, 1865, and four evenings were 
occupied in its discussion. This paper won for Sir Charles 
the Telford Medal. 

It was generally agreed that here was the first instance 
of any great length of cable being completely and lastingly 
satisfactory. Even after an interval of thirty-five years, 
the Persian Gulf cable is acknowledged to have been the 
first case in which the real requirements of a cable had 
been thoroughly appreciated and put into practice. Apart 
from the uninterrupted success attending the laying of 
the four sections, a vast advance had been made in the 
design, manufacture, and testing, upon anything hitherto 
achieved ; and to the novelties and improvements intro- 
duced therein the result may be largely attributed. With 
the laying of the Persian Gulf cable forming the first tele- 
graphic connection between the United Kingdom, Europe 
and India the science of the construction and laying of 
submarine telegraphs had been pretty definitely worked 

1 "The Telegraph to India and its Extension to Australia and 
China," by Sir Charles Tilston Bright, M.P., M.Inst.C.E. (vide Mins. 
Proc. Inst. C.E., vol. xxv) ; also Appendix 2 of Vol. II. of orginal 
biography . 

2 Sir Charles had lately been elected a full member of this Insti- 
tution when thirty the youngest age possible. 


out, and no very striking departure in general principles 
has since been introduced ; indeed, the end of the pioneer 
stage may be said to have been reached at this juncture, 
giving rise to a new era in submarine telegraphy. As a 
result of the various precautions taken on the Persian Gulf 
line, it was in 1889 reported by the chief technical officer 
of the Indo-European Government Telegraphs * to be 
" one of the best ever made." Mr. Possmann at the same 
time reported that " the gutta-percha insulation is in excellent 
order, after submersion under most trying conditions for 
no less than thirty years." Now when we consider the 
countless myriads of boring worms in that hot sea, and the 
fact that they have a great weakness for yarn and gutta- 
percha we can the better appreciate what this means, and 
the value of the improvements introduced in the design of 
the cable. 

For personal recollections of Sir Charles Bright in connec- 
tion with the Indian Telegraph Expedition, the following 
graceful tribute from the pen of Mr. F. C. Webb his chief 
engineering assistant may here be reproduced. It ap- 
peared in the Electrical Engineer on the occasion of Sir 
Charles' death, and ran thus : 

I can recollect many little traits of character that struck me 
suddenly at the time, and that showed me he had a kindly 
heart. I remember once when, in my zeal for pushing on the 
work of fitting out the five ships for the Persian Gulf cable, I 

1 Official History of the Persian Gulf Telegraph Cables. By Julius 
Possmann, Engineer and Electrician. 1889. 


pressed Sir Charles to take some violent steps against Mr. Hen- 
ley. " No," said Sir Charles, " I won't do that. Because we 
have the power of giants, that is no reason why we should use 
it ! " I was silent for some time. I accepted the rebuke ; and 
I hope I have since acted on his words, which showed a kindly 
and considerate heart. 

Then again, I remember how Sir Charles used to whisper to 
me when we were paying out cable from the Marian Moore at 
night. " Comedown below," he said ; " my servant is opening 
a tin of Bath chaps " ; and down we went, and I never enjoyed 
anything in the Persian Gulf so much as these little impromptu 
suppers to which Sir Charles was wont to invite me. 

Once, I recollect, when we arrived on board the P. & O. steamer 
off Suez, we were absolutely starving ; but so Medes and Persian- 
like were the laws of the P. & O. Company then, that as dinner 
was over, we could not get a scrap to eat. Sir Charles was always 
a model of discipline, and would not even raise his voice on the 
subject ; but determined to suffer hunger in silence so as to 
show an example to his impatient and excitable assistant. We 
paced the deck in silent hunger for some time ; then Sir Charles 
suggested that we should discuss quietly what we should like 
to have for dinner. I immediately fell into the idea. " Julien 
soup," I exclaimed. " No," said Sir Charles, in a grave tone, 
" half a dozen oysters, and a glass of Chablis." " Good," I 
said ; "I see you understand the matter better than I do, Sir 
Charles. But still," I said in a pensive way, " Julien soup would 
not be bad on empty stomachs like ours ; however, I waive the 
point, and accept the oysters, such as they are." " Let us go on 
to the fish," said Sir Charles, as we paced the deck faster and 
faster in the deepening twilight. " Filet de soles au gratin is a 
favourite dish of mine, Sir Charles. Would you mind me having 
that ? " " Certainly, my dear fellow, by all means ; but I must 
have some cod and oyster sauce to follow." " Tete de veau en 
tortue is not bad when you are nearly starving, and the stomach 
is in a weak state." " That is true," said Sir Charles, " but petits 
pates a la Victoria are not to be despised ;" and so we went on, 


pacing the deck until we were obliged to " turn in " awfully 
hungry. I dreamt about that dinner, of course, all night, and 
then I awoke to a ship's boy bringing me a cup of P. & O. ship's 
coffee ; and I suppose that every telegraph engineer or electrician 
knows, to his own cost, what P. & O. morning coffee is. If they 
don't know, I advise them not to try to. I believe the P. & O. 
have reformed since then, so enough of that story ; but I shall 
never forget it. 

Let me think again. 

Once, when we were turning some cable over into a gunboat, 
about two miles off Bushire, a mistake, between myself and a 
young clerk, had been made as to the number of revolutions of 
the machine that was measuring the cable being transhipped to 
the gunboat. The mistake was discovered, and I was in constern- 
ation. We were shipping into the gunboat enough to land five 
shore ends. Sir Charles grasped the situation in a second, and 
instead of blowing me up (which " blowing up " I should pro- 
bably have passed on to the real culprit, a poor harmless clerk), 
simply said in the coolest manner, " I will go ashore, Webb, and 
carry all the critics with me." 

I could find in my memory, if I had time, many another little 
anecdote which would show the kindly feeling that existed in the 
heart of Sir Charles Bright. He always showed an unusual 
consideration towards all who worked under him, and had a 
genial word for every one entirely irrespective of position. 


Politics and Parliament 

T7OR some time before the dissolution of Parliament 
-^ in 1865 Sir Charles was approached by influential 
members of several constituencies as to becoming a candi- 
date, but none of these attracted him. When making 
holiday in Wales, however, he heard that Mr. W. Angerstein, 
one of the sitting members for Greenwich, proposed con- 
testing the county instead ; and, after some deliberation, he 
consented to " stand " for the vacant Greenwich seat, being 
known to many in connection with the Atlantic cable and 
other important lines most of which had been constructed 
at Greenwich. Many of his old staff and cable hands lived 
there, thus his name was almost a " household word." 

As a first step. Bright sounded Mr. Charles Curtoys, an 
old telegraphic associate, who had long resided at Charlton, 
where he was a churchwarden. Mr. Curtoys took an active 
part in political matters, being chairman of the local Con- 
servative Association, of which Mr. A. D. Wilson was the 
energetic secretary. Now though Sir Charles was a Liberal, 
he was moderate in his views, and by no means a Radical. l 

1 He was, in fact, what would to-day be called a Liberal Unionist. 



Thus Mr. Curtoys at once favoured the idea of his candida- 
ture, and this gentleman's influence led to promises of sup- 
port from an imporant section of the local Conservatives. 
As soon as his willingness to contest the seat was noised 
abroad, the moderate section of the Liberal party united 
in urging him to do so. 

After expressing his political opinions at considerable 
length, and after going through the usual " heckling," he 
was adopted as candidate by acclamation in conjunction 
with the sitting member, Alderman Salomons. 

Sir Charles Bright's address to the electors read as fol- 
lows : 



Having received a requisition from many of the Electors 
of your Borough, inviting me to become a Candidate for your 
representation in Parliament at the ensuing election, I feel pride 
in accepting the invitation, and I have now the honour of soliciting 
your suffrages. 

My political principles are, I believe, in unison with those of 
the majority of your large body. 

I am well contented with the position of our country compared 
with that of foreign nations ; and attribute it to the superiority 
of its constitutional government. I am an earnest advocate 
of an Extension of the Electoral Franchise conceived in the 
spirit of the Reform Bill of 1832, and applied to the present 
advanced condition of the population so as to call into exercise 
more of the enlightened intelligence of the country. 

In regard to the question of Voting by Ballot, I see no reason 
to think that it can be necessary for the protection of the indepen- 
dence of the British Voter to resort to a secret use of his rights. 

While I am desirous of ensuring, by proper legislation, the 


maintenance of the fabric of the National Church, I am no less 
anxious to exempt from the payment of rates for such purposes 
all those who from conscientious scruples are opposed to the 
present system, thus removing all grounds of complaint against 
the Church of England, of which I am a sincere member. 

With reference to the various social subjects that affect the 
welfare, comfort and independence of the people, and with re- 
spect to our relations with foreign states, by which the interests 
of the nation at large are influenced, many opportunities will be 
presented to me for affording to the electors the fullest informa- 
tion they may require as to my views on these and other public 

If you do me the honour of returning me as your representa- 
tive, I shall take my seat as an independent supporter of the 
present Government, whose general measures have been fraught 
with so much proved benefit to the commercial and financial 
condition of the country. 

I have the honour to be, Gentlemen, 

Your faithful servant, 



Greenwich was in those days one of the most unwieldy 
boroughs existing, comprising the three towns of Greenwich, 
Woolwich, and Deptford, besides Plumstead, Charlton, 
Blackheath, and Lewisham, thus forming an exceedingly 
extensive and varied electorate to canvass. It was, in 
fact, the largest Metropolitan borough at that period. It 
has since been carved into three separate boroughs, but at 
that time a small army of paid canvassers, with a number 
of sub-committee rooms mostly in public-houseshad to 
be engaged. 

Many meetings and speeches were, of course, necessary, 


the latter requiring considerable cogitation as regards 
choice of subject, seeing that the shade of opinion varied not 
a little between Deptford on the one hand and Woolwich on 
the other. However, Sir Charles went through with it, 
never letting the grass grow under his feet. His speeches 
were duly reported at considerable length by the Kentish 
Mercury and other provincial papers. It 'would be impos- 
sible to reproduce these, but a report in The Times of one 
of them may be taken as a sample, and so is given here : 


A large meeting was held on Wednesday night at the Lecture 
Hall, Greenwich, to hear an exposition of the political views of 
Sir Charles Bright, whose address as a candidate for the seat 
about to be vacated by Mr. Angerstein, M.P., was published 
nearly a month since. Mr. W. Jones was called to the chair, 
and, after some preliminary remarks, 

Sir Charles, who was received with great applause, referred to 
the extension of the franchise. The indifference which had 
existed for some time on this subject was now at an end, and a 
settlement would doubtless be arrived at during the coming Parlia- 
ment. The present system of household qualification had many 
advantages that of simplicity among the number ; but it failed 
to bring in many persons mentally and morally suited to exercise 
the franchise, even of a class who might be considered above the 
standard intended to be drawn. Men, whatever their station 
and intelligence, living with their parents, were excluded, and 
practically also lodgers. It was further complained and appar- 
ently with much reason that artisans were left out of thepresent 
system altogether ; in some boroughs, no doubt, a certain number 
were included, as in Greenwich, where many skilled mechanics 


were on the muster-roll ; but the number could not be taken, at the 
extreme, as more than 10 per cent, of the whole, and the trading 
part of the community enjoyed the lion's share of the electoral 
power. Let them consider the position of that class. It was a 
third part of a century since the passing of the Reform Bill, 
and what gigantic strides had been made everywhere in that 
period. Railways, telegraphs, the penny post, and a crowd of 
improvements had been introduced, most important in their 
influence on the habits of the people. Nor had the political world 
been idle. In that time had occurred the abolition of slavery, 
as well as the repeal of the corn laws and navigation laws. The 
poor law had been reformed, as well as the criminal law, by which 
the punishment of death had been abolished for forgery, larceny 
and other crimes previously subject to the extreme penalty. 
Taxes upon knowledge had been removed, and many other liberal 
and progressive measures had been carried out. One wheel of 
the machine had, however, been stationary the distribution of 
the voting power of the people and this in the face of the ad- 
mitted increase of education and habits of frugality everywhere. 
He would not inflict any statistics upon them to establish this, 
for it was incontestable ; but he pointed to the late distress in 
Lancashire, arising from the sudden stoppage of the staple manu- 
facture of the country, and the manly, uncomplaining, thought- 
ful conduct of the operatives during a long season of misfortune. 
On the grounds of education and intelligence, he, therefore, 
considered that the time had arrived for a re-consideration of 
the limits imposed upon the electoral scale thirty-three years 
since, and for a suitable downward extension of the franchise. 
To what extent and by what means should such an extension be 
made ? It was considered by some that every man of sound 
intelligence and years of discretion had an inherent right to 
the suffrage, and some had also argued that women were entitled 
to it. Let them consider if that would be just. There were 
about a million of voters at present, and these would, of course, 
be placed at once in a minority by such a scheme being carried 
out. The chief business of Parliament was to determine the 


amount, mode of collection, and expenditure of taxes ; and 
would be clearly unfair to those who paid the greatest part of 
the taxes, to commit these functions to a majority composed 
of those who paid the smallest part. They would, to use the 
words of a distinguished writer, " have every motive to lavish, 
and none to economise," and any voting power exerted by them 
in regard to funds to which they did not contribute would be 
contrary to all principles of free government. It was true that 
everybody paid taxes, to some extent, indirectly. But this was 
very different to a tax levied directly ; and it would, at all 
events, be to the interest of indirect tax-paying voters to make 
sure that whatever increased expenditure they might carry by 
their votes, it should not be paid for by any increased taxation 
upon the tea or sugar, or other duty-paying articles, consumed 
by themselves. This might be met, no doubt, by some general 
system of direct taxation ; but any change of that kind, even if 
the revenue could be so well collected, must necessarily be 
carried out by slow degrees, and they had to deal with things as 
they existed. There were also many glaring anomalies in the 
present distribution of the representation whichitwas, to his mind, 
almost as important to have corrected as to widen and deepen 
the limits of the franchise. That Honiton, with a population 
of 3,300 and 269 electors, or Portarlington, with 2,500 people and 
106 electors, should each return the same number of members 
as Liverpool or Manchester was obviously a defect ; and a 
majority in a division might not represent a tithe of population 
and property for which the minority appeared. Let them im- 
agine the difference of property paying taxes if that qualification 
was to be regarded instead of population, in Liverpool, compared 
with Honiton. He did not, however, advocate an absolutely 
rigid system of numerical representation, but for the correction 
of many existing anomalies, which were comparable with 
Weymouth having four members before the Reform Bill. He 
considered that a complete and maturely considered plan should 
be carried, for rectifying the present deficiencies in the scheme 
of voting. It should comprise an extension of the suffrage both 


in counties and boroughs. It should also provide for revision 
of the representation, and ought to be sufficiently comprehensive 
to settle the question for another third part of a century. He 
would like also to see an extension of the present class of voters ; 
and had no objection to what had been unreasonably sneered at 
as fancy franchises such as that every person who paid income 
tax should have a vote, whether a householder or not. 

He had stated in his address that he considered the vote by 
ballot unnecessary and unsuited to British institutions. A vote 
was not the private property of the voter, which he could sell 
or dispose of as he wished ; it was a public trust, and should be 
publicly exercised. The well-known argument taken from the 
use of the ballot in clubs had been made use of to him by an 
elector. But in a club no sort of trust was involved, and the 
members had a positive right to express their opinions as to 
admitting a candidate for membership into their Society or not, 
and there was no sort of obligation to publish the fact or the 

In respect to church rates, while the Church and State were 
united, the right of the latter to tax members of the Church for 
the support of the fabric could not be disputed. It was very 
different with those who did not take part in her services, or 
concur in her formularies. To Nonconformists the payment of 
church rates was a positive injustice. He would give his most 
earnest support to any system which might be devised for reliev- 
ing them from this grievance, and at the same time the parish 
churches from falling into decay. Failing this for the reasons 
he had given, as well as because as a member of the Church 
of England he was desirous that there should be no sense of in- 
justice on the part of others he would vote for the abolition of 
church rates, feeling sure that the gap would be filled up by the 
voluntary support of her members. 

After some remarks upon the foreign policy of the Government 
and the distribution of the burdens of taxation during the last 
few years, Sir Charles stated that if elected he should take his 
seat as an independent supporter of Lord Palmerston's Govern 


ment not necessarily following it in every groove, or pledging 
himself to vote with it on every question, but generally support- 
ing liberal and progressive measures. 

After an animated discussion several speakers addressing 
the meeting at once and a number of questions being put to the 
candidate upon the Permissive Bill, capital punishment, and 
other public topics, a resolution was proposed to the effect that 
the meeting having heard the political sentiments of Sir Charles 
Bright, was of opinion that he was a fit and proper person to 
represent the borough in Parliament, and pledged itself to sup- 
port him at the forthcoming election. 

An amendment, to the effect that the views of other supposed 
candidates should be heard before giving any pledge in favour 
of Sir Charles Bright, was rejected by an overwhelming majority 
only twenty-five hands being held up in its favour. 

The original motion was then put and carried by acclamation. 

Bright was ably supported in Greenwich and Blackheath 
by his old friend, Mr. John Penn, the famous engineer, 
and father of the late Member for Lewisham. During a 
part of the canvassing period, Sir Charles was the guest of 
Mr. Penn at The Cedars, Lee, a pretty place through which 
the South-Eastern Railway runs. Another energetic and 
distinguished member of his general electioneering com- 
mittee was the late Sir E. J. Reed, K.C.B., M.P., F.R.S., 
at one time Naval Constructor to the Admiralty. Sir 
Charles also shared, with Sir J. Heron-Maxwell, a partial 
support from the landed interest in the person of Sir Thomas 
Mary on- Wilson, Bart., of Charlton House, where he stayed 
more than once. 

Bright was further supported at a number of the meet- 
ings by an elderly man with a name sounding somewhat 
like Hobart, who used to make his way from the crowd in 


front on to the platform in working garb sometimes 
coatless, with his shirt sleeves tucked up. He had a great 
" gift of the gab," and interspersed workmen's jokes and 
sayings, which always evoked cheers and kept the crowd 
thoroughly entertained. He would wind up somewhat as 
follows : 

" Now, 'ere's Surr Charles. He's a real good working 
man he is. If his hands ain't horny, his head's hard for 
work, aye, and soft for us working men, and the work of 
his brain has given lots of good employment, and lots of 
good pay to heaps of us around about here. And he's a 
thorough sailor, like many more of us." 

This style of advocacy always led to warm applause. It 
turned out that he was a paid speaker ; and, as far as was 
known, had not himself done a stroke of work for years 
preferring rather to live by his tongue ! We see more of 
this nowadays than was experienced at that time. 

But some of Sir Charles' actual cable hands also came 
forward, referring to him as the real working man's candi- 
date, and speaking of his having " shared grub with them " 
which was, more or less, true on board ship, etc. Some 
boatloads of these used to come over from Henley's and 
Silver's Telegraph works, on the other side of the river, to 
take part in the meetings, besides most of the hands from 
the Telegraph Construction Company's Greenwich works, 
with whom he had had so much to do in connection with 
the Atlantic cable. 

There were five candidates for two seats : Alderman 
Salomons, the old sitting member ; Sir John Heron-Maxwell, 



a strong Tory ; Sir Charles Bright ; Captain Douglas Harris, 
professedly Liberal ; and Mr. Baxter-Langley, an " ad- 
vanced " Radical. 

In the result, the voters showed their preference for 
moderate men by returning Alderman Salomons, the old 
member, at the head of the poll, Sir Charles being second 
with 3,678 votes, or a majority of 1,237 over Sir J. Heron- 
Maxwell, whilst Captain Harris and Mr. Baxter-Langley 
were " nowhere." At the declaration of the poll, Sir 
Charles Bright and Alderman Salomons addressed an im- 
mense crowd from the hustings, and were received with 
the usual enthusiasm which accompanies success. 

Sir Charles considerably the youngest of all the candi- 
dates was the only man who had ever succeeded for the 
first time at a Greenwich parliamentary election. 

On his entry into Parliament Sir Charles did not join 
the ranks of the too voluble members. He seldom spoke, 
but when he did, his speech was concise and to the point, 
and dealt with subjects he knew thoroughly. In fact, 
he never got up on his legs without having something 
useful to say. 1 He voted consistently, and was scarcely 
ever absent from a division. 

Sir Charles always did his best for his constituents. 
Among other matters, he joined with Mr. Otway, M.P. 

1 This remark applies equally as regards the scientific meetings , 
connected with his profession. Sir Charles was, indeed, essentially 
a man of action rather than of words or papers. Nevertheless, he 
was once characterised in print as "an engineer who could talk the 
leg off an iron pot ! " 


for Chatham, in repeatedly urging upon the Tory Government 
the need of some improvement in the wretched pay (about 
fourteen shillings per week) then doled out to the dockyard 
labourers remembering, as he told his constituents, the 
advice of President Lincoln : "If you keep on pegging 
away, some good may come." 

The subject of this biography could, however, speak at 
length and well, too when occasion demanded it. His 
addresses at meetings in Kent sometimes extended to 
two or three newspaper columns ; but then, of course, on 
such occasions the whole region of current politics had to be 


DURING 1865 the Aeronautical Society * of Great Britain 
was founded by Sir Charles Bright in conjunction 
with the Duke of Argyll and Mr. James Glaisher with the 
object of fostering and developing aeronautics and aerology ; 
and to this matter he gave much careful attention, not- 
withstanding his arduous professional and political engage- 

The Inquiry into the Construction of Submarine Telegraphs 

Aroused by the failure of the Red Sea line the losses of 
which amounted to more than half a million sterling, and to 
which a continuous Treasury guarantee had been given 
the Government, before undertaking further responsibility, 
had resolved some years previously to thoroughly investi- 
gate the entire question of submarine telegraphy, and ap- 
pointed a committee for the purpose. 

This Committee, with Captain Gait on, R.E., 2 in the chair, 
representing the Board of Trade, devoted twenty-two sittings 

1 Afterwards the Balloon Society. 

2 Then of the War Office, and afterwards Sir Douglas Galton, 
K.C.B., D.C.L., LL.D., F.R.S. 


1865-1869 277 

to questioning engineers, electricians, professors, physicists, 
seamen, and manufacturers, who had taken part in the various 
branches of submarine work, and whose knowledge or experi- 
ence might throw light on the subject. Investigations were 
instituted concerning the structure of all cables previously 
made or in course of manufacture, and the quality of the 
different materials used, as to special points arising during 
manufacture and laying, on the routes taken, on electrical 
testing, and on sending and receiving instruments, speed 
of signalling, etc. Eminent scientists and engineers, including 
Professor Wheatstone, Professor Thomson, Sir Charles 
Bright, Mr. R. S. Newall, Mr. R. A. Glass, Mr. Wildman 
Whitehouse, Mr. Latimer Clark, Mr. Samuel Canning, Mr. C. 
W. Siemens, Mr. Willoughby Smith, Mr. C. F. Varley, and Mr. 
F. C. Webb made known to the Committee the science and 
practice of cable making and laying. 

The finding of this Committee was published by order of 
the Government, as also the reports of the meetings and 
descriptions of the experiments, together with papers and 
drawings sent in by the experts who were consulted, the whole 
being included in the form of a Parliamentary Blue Book 
the result of work which will ever be considered a model of 
scientific investigation. 1 

1 Referring to this Blue Book, Sir Charles, in his Presidential 
Address of 1887 to the Institution of Electrical Engineers, remarked : 
" I consider it to be the most valuable collection of facts, warnings 
and evidence which has ever been compiled concerning submarine 
cables, and that no telegraph engineer or electrician should be with- 
out it, or a study of it. It is like the boards on ice marked ' Danger- 
ous ' as a caution to skaters. The succinct report of the Committee 
at the beginning of the book, which is, of course, based on the 
evidence obtained, should especially commend itself." 


Second and Third Atlantic Cables, 1865-66 

As has been already mentioned, benefiting by the evidence 
and conclusions of this exhaustive inquiry, coupled with the 
experience gained in the various lines since the First Atlantic 
Cable, at last (in 1865) another Trans-Atlantic line came to 
be embarked upon. As we have seen, this, and yet another, 
was in the end successfully carried out, the type of cable 
advised by Bright being the same as that which he (Sir 
Charles) had recommended in 1859 for the then proposed 
connection with Gibraltar. 

To celebrate the Atlantic cables a great banquet was given 
at the instigation of Mr. Cyrus Field, when that gentleman 
was in London. It was held at the Palace Hotel, and was 
graced by many distinguished personages in the political 
and scientific world. 

Besides the subject of this biography, the company 
included the Right Hon. James Stuart Wortley, M.P., Mr. 
Thomas Brassey, M.P., Mr. Samuel Gurney, M.P., Mr. R. W. 
Crawford, M.P., Sir Daniel Gooch, Bart., M.P., Sir George 
Elliot, Bart., M.P., Mr. Charles Edwards, M.P., Mr. W. C. 
Romaine, C.B., Captain Mackinnon, R.N., M.P., Captain 
(afterwards Rear-Admiral) Sherard Osborn, R.N., C.B., 
Captain Richards (afterwards Rear-Admiral Sir George 
Richards, K.C.B., F.R.S.), Professor Sir Charles Wheatstone 
F.R.S., Sir Charles Fox, Captain Galton, R.E. (afterwards 
Sir Douglas Galton, K.C.B., F.R.S.), Mr. W. T. Henley, 
Captain Sir James Anderson, Sir Samuel Canning, Mr. John 
Chatterton, Mr. Willoughby Smith, Mr. Henry Clifford, 
Mr. Richard Collett, Mr, W. Shuter, Mr. H, Weaver, Mr, 

1865-1869 279 

T. H. Wells, Mr. William Barber, Mr. Charles Burt, and Mr. 
J. C. Parkinson, besides Mr. John Walter and Dr. W. H. 
Russell, both of The Times newspaper. 

In the course of the proceedings Mr. Field said : 

Ladies and gentlemen, we have here to-night a gentleman who 
was one of my earliest friends in the Atlantic Telegraph, and 
who, for the distinguished part he took in the expeditions of 
1857 an d 1858, was knighted by Her Majesty. He is now a 
member of the House of Commons. I hope we shall hear from 
Sir Charles Bright. 

Sir Charles Bright, M.P., rose and said : 

Mr. Field, ladies and gentlemen, I was not expecting to be 
called upon as a member of the House of Commons this evening, 
for the occasion upon which we have met together, and the recol- 
lections it has brought up, made me lose sight of myself for the 
time being in any other capacity than that of an engineer. 

We have had a most able expression of the kindly feeling and 
goodwill which in reality exists between us in this country and 
that great nation which is uppermost in our minds to-night, and 
we have also heard something about the possibilities, or contin- 
gencies, of difference between us. Well, I for one do not think 
there is any likelihood of our being very long in an unfriendly 
position towards each other while such a communication as that 
which we have witnessed in this room continues in operation l ; 
for while the electric telegraph is a most deadly instrument in 
times of war, I regard it as the most effective engine that states- 
men can have in their hands for maintaining peace between 
nations. (Hear, hear.) 

The changes which an earlier invention of the telegraph would 

1 A wire had been led into the room, in connection with the Atlan- 
tic cable, by which various messages were sent to the States and 
replies received during th$ evening, 


have made in the history of events in the world can hardly now 
be followed out, and there is room for a treatise to be written by 
some ingenious person upon the occurrences which would not 
have happened if telegraphs had been there to prevent them. 
We need not go far for an example. If we look back at the lamen- 
table war between England and the United States at the begin- 
ning of this century we find that certain Orders in Council, which 
were obnoxious on the other side of the Atlantic, were actually 
withdrawn or cancelled at the very time that war was declared 
on their account by the American Government. So, too, at 
the end of many wars, it has happened that thousands of lives 
have been sacrificed through the tardiness of communication ; 
as, for instance, the battle of Toulouse l after peace had been 
settled between France and England which would have had no 
place in history if electricity had then been trained to our service. 

That the story of our suppression of the Sepoy revolt in India, 
in 1857, would have been a much longer one but for the telegraph 
is fully recognised ; and, in connection with this, I remember a cir- 
cumstance at a much earlier date, which was, at the time, almost 
prophetic. When the telegraph between London and Southamp- 
ton was opened, in 1843, the meeting of the British Association 
was being held at the latter place. Lord Palmerston, who was 
a landowner in the neighbourhood, took an active interest in the 
proceedings, and, in referring to the telegraph, he said that the 
time might come when, supposing a mutiny broke out in India, 
the Government would telegraph instructions to the Governor- 
General in Calcutta as to the steps to be taken to repress it. 

And this reminds me, gentlemen, that while we are celebrating 
the beginning and completion of the Atlantic Telegraph, there 
remains yet a good deal for us to do. England must have a more 
perfect communication with her Eastern Colonies we must 
have an independent line of our own to India, and onward to 

An uncle of Sir Charles, Major Henry Bright, in command of 
the Royal Irish Fusiliers (8 7 th Regt.),was shot dead when leading 
his men in this battle. 

1865-1869 28i 

Australia and China. (Cheers.) There are men at this table who 
have done great things, but there is ample work in the future. 
I hope that we may all meet together, at no very distant time, 
to congratulate ourselves upon the success of further labours, 
when the seas shall cover wires communicating like nerves between 
every great centre of thought and action in the world. 

I should get too enthusiastic and make a long story of it 
were I to attempt to describe the extent to which I expect sub- 
marine telegraphy will be carried in the time even of this genera- 
tion ; and I will therefore resume my seat, thanking you again 
for your kindness in coupling my name with a toast at such a 
triumphant banquet as this. (Prolonged cheers.) 

Later on, the following cable message was received from 
Professor Samuel Morse, LL.D., in America : 

Greeting to all met to perform an act of national justice. May 
this divine attribute ever be the companion of the telegraph in 
its true mission of binding the nations of the entire world in 
bonds of peace ! Special greeting to Cyrus Field, Sir Charles 
Bright, and Sir William Thomson, as also to Cooke, Wheatstone, 

Hooper's India-Rubber Cables 

Almost from the earliest days of submarine telegraphy 
the question of adopting india-rubber for insulating the 
conductor had been a subject of consideration. Mr. C. V. 
West ^in connection with Messrs. Silver and Co. ^was 
probably one of the first champions of india-rubber for this 
purpose. He had not only proposed to lay an india-rubber 
insulated cable to France before the Channel line was laid, 
but actually submerged short experimental lengths in 
Portsmouth Harbour and elsewhere about that time. 

Then again, Mr. (afterwards Sir C. W.) Siemens had devised 


a special form of india-rubber coating for submarine wires, 
and considerable lengths were made by his firm at an early 

But in all the foregoing the india-rubber, more or less 
pure, was subject to serious deterioration by change of 
temperature and general conditions. It was not, indeed, 
until the late Mr. William Hooper conceived the idea 
of applying the system of vulcanization to india-rubber- 
covered wires, that very practical success was met with in 
this direction. Mr. Hooper's first patented process had come 
out in 1859, followed by improvements in 1860, 1863, and 

The strong point about india-rubber as an electrical in- 
sulator was its high resistance and low inductive capacity 
compared with gutta-percha. But its manufacture was 
a less simple matter from first to last ; and much credit is 
due ,to the late Mr. Hooper for developing the art to the 
extent he did. Shortly before this he had submitted speci- 
mens of the core made by the Hooper material and process 
to various eminent engineers, electricians, and chemists for 
their opinion. Besides being reported on by Sir Charles and 
his partner, Mr. Latimer Clark, its qualities were also testified 
to by Sir William Thomson, Sir Charles Wheatstone, Mr. Wild- 
man Whitehouse, Dr. Miller, Dr. Frankland, Mr. C. F. 
Varley, Professor Fleeming Jenkin, and Mr. F. C. W T ebb, 
but the report of Messrs. Bright and Clark was of a specially 
exhaustive character. 1 

Thus, about this time, Hooper's core came into high repute. 

L The full report is embodied in Appendix 13 to Vol. II of the 
original biography, 

1865-1869 28 3 

It was adopted for river crossings in India, and when, shortly 
afterwards, an additional cable was determined on for the 
Persian Gulf, Hooper's core was selected for the submarine 
portion of the line. 1 

Improvement of Communication with India and the East. 

Perhaps one of the most important matters which Sir 
Charles Bright took up in Parliament was the improvement 
and acceleration of the mail and telegraphic communication 
with India and the East. Indeed, ever since he had laid the 
Indian cables, he had been indefatigable in his endeavours 
to improve the land line connecting links. 

It will scarcely be realised now that in 1866 the contract 
speed of the Peninsular and Oriental mail steamers was only 
8J knots in vessels of 800 tons ; and that the Australian 
mails were taken on from Point de Galle once a month at 
the same speed in 600 tonners. 

But the telegraph service was still more indifferent ; 
for although the cable laid by Sir Charles in 1864, between 
Fao, at the head of the Persian Gulf, and Karachi, was 
worked well and quickly by the trained English staff, yet, 
owing to the crass ignorance and indolence of the Turkish 
staff between Constantinople, Baghdad, and Fao coupled 
with the inefficiency and venality of the half-castes em- 

1 India-rubber core is probably better suited for underground 
lines in tropical climates than gutta-percha. It is also proof against 
the teredo and other submarine borers. 

All the india-rubber core as used in the present day for electric 
light mains, torpedo cables, etc., is manufactured on the principle 
of Hooper's process. It is also still adopted for cables laid in certain 
teredo -ridden waters, 


ployed by Government on the Indian side messages con- 
stantly took a week, and sometimes letters dispatched from 
England at the same time were delivered first ! Besides 
this, the messages were mostly incorrect and often muti- 
lated by the apparently intentional omission of parts. 
As for the Turks, they would often from sheer apathy allow 
their apparatus, or wires, to be out of order for days together 
rather than devote an hour or two to repairs. Notwith- 
standing constant complaints and urgent representations 
from all sides, the Turkish Government were so jealous that 
they would not allow a land wire between Constantinople and 
Fao to be worked by English operators, though the traffic 
was even then at the rate of 100,000 per annum. 

With a view to remedying this state of things, Mr. R. W- 
Crawford, M.P. for the City of London, and Sir Charles 
Bright took up the cudgels. Thus in the House of 
Commons, on February 27th, 1866, an important discussion 
was initiated by Mr. Crawford on the wretched working of 
the land lines in Turkey and India connecting up the 1,300 
miles of cable laid in the Persian Gulf in 1864. He was 
followed by Mr. Horsfall ; and Sir Charles contributed his 
quota, as follows : 

Sir C. Bright, having been practically engaged in the con- 
struction and laying down of the portion of the line under 
discussion, hoped the House would permit him to add the 
expression of his regret that a line with which much pains 
had been taken, and which had cost much money, should have 
occasioned such disappointment. 

He took it for granted that the Turkish Government was 
desirous of carrying out the convention ; but so little interest 
did the Turks feel in the matter that the line between Bussorah 

1865-1869 285 

and Baghdad was delayed for a year, owing to some miserable 
local squabble, and operations in the Turkish dominions had been 
retarded ever since. The working of the Indian line had been 
described as " the most wretched in the world." He had met a 
gentleman waiting as long as seven days at Bombay for a tele- 
gram, and he had himself been obliged to wait for two or three 
days for a message between Karachi and Bombay -a distance of 
500 miles. It would be difficult to exaggerate the importance of 
this line in a political sense, and while it was working so badly 
it would be impossible to extend our telegraphic system through 
to Australia and China. (Hear, hear. 1 ) 

To obviate so serious an impediment to prompt and accurate 
communication, he (Sir C. Bright) wished to call attention to the 
importance of carrying a second line from England, by direct 
submarine cable to Gibraltar and Malta, to connect up the exist- 
ing Malta and Alexandrian cable and the Egyptian land lines ; 
thence by a cable to Aden and Bombay, so as to avoid the delays, 
and errors arising from transmission at the hands of those working 
the present land route, comprising half-educated half-castes, 
Turks, Austrians, etc., who all combine in mutilating and mang- 
ling the plain English of our messages. (Applause.) 

Finally, he (Sir C. Bright) wished to point out that by what was 
known as the Turkish route a message was liable to be dealt with 
by no less than ten administrations before passing into British 
hands a matter which the honourable gentleman ventured to 
think required our serious consideration and a speedy remedy. 

Mr. Moffatt, Mr. Childers (for the Government), and Mr. 
Ayrton continued the discussion, which led to the appoint- 
ment of a Select Committee on " East India Communica- 
tions," of which Sir Charles proved one of the most active 
members. The other members of the Committee were : 

1 The Times, February 28th, 1866. 


Mr. Crawford (in the chair), Lord Stanley, Lord Robert 
Montagu, Sir Henry Rawlinson, Admiral Seymour, Mr. John 
Laird, Mr. (afterwards the Right Honourable Sir James) 
Stansfield, Mr. Acton Ayrton, the Right Honourable Hugh 
Childers, 1 Mr. T. M. Weguelin, Mr. Charles Turner, Mr. 
H. J. Bailie, Mr. G. Moffatt, and Mr. Charles Schreiber, 
whilst at a later period Mr. Ward Hunt (the Chancellor 
of the Exchequer) and Sir James Fergusson were added. 

The sittings extended from March i3th, 1866, till July 
2oth, and culminated in an exhaustive Report, with a Blue 
Book of nearly 700 pages. Some sixty witnesses were 
examined, commencing with the principal postal and 
other Government officials (Mr. Frederick Hill, the Con- 
tract Secretary, and others), together with the chiefs of 
the Indian Telegraphs Col. Frederick Goldsmid, Col. D. J. 
Robinson, R.E., Gol. Richard Strachey, R.E., Major J. U. 
Bateman-Champain, R.E., besides Capt. James Rennie, 
C.B., and Mr. W. T. Thornton of the India Office. All of 
these gave valuable information as to the mail and telegraph 

The tardiness of letters and gross telegraphic irregulari- 
ties were testified to by many merchants of eminence, in- 
cluding Messrs. Henry Nelson, representing Crawford, Colvin 
& Co., Charles Shand, W. H. Crake, Patrick Campbell of 
the Oriental Bank, Robert Gladstone, G. McMicking of Ker, 
Bolton & Co.; C. J. Robinson, and John Green, of Ralli 

1 Mr. Childers was at that time representing Pontefract, near 
which Badsworth Hall an old seat of the Bright family is situated. 
As a fellow Yorkshireman, as well as for other reasons, he and Sir 
Charles had much in common and were close friends. 

1865-1869 287 

Brothers. They were all unanimous in condemning the 
existing state of things ; as were the Hon. R. Grimston 
(Chairman of the Electric Telegraph Company) and Sir 
James Carmichael (Chairman of the Submarine Telegraph 
Company), who pointed out that the public blamed their 
companies to whom the messages were originally handed 
for the misdeeds of the Turks and Indian " half-castes." Sir 
Macdonald Stephenson, Chairman of the Telegraph to India 
Company, with Mr. Latimer Clark, C.E., furnished im- 
portant details about the cause of failure of the early cable 
from Suez to Bombay in 1859, on the 800,000 of whose 
capital the Government had, too hastily, given a subsidy. 

With reference to the question of providing speedier 
steamers and the cost of an accelerated service, Mr. Joseph 
d'Aguilar Samuda, M.P. perhaps the highest living author- 
ity on shipbuilding, and a friend of Sir Charles' put in 
most valuable evidence, making many suggestions that 
were shortly afterwards carried out. As regards through 
cables and their construction, all requisite knowledge was 
imparted to the Committee by such experts as Mr. H. C. 
Forde, C.E. ; Mr. R. A. Glass, Managing Director of the 
Telegraph Construction Company ; Mr. C. W. Siemens, 
C.E. ; and Prof. Fleeming Jenkin, C.E. 

Throughout this prolonged inquiry Mr. Crawford, the 
Chairman, and Sir Charles were in constant attendance. 
After the Chairman, Bright was, perhaps, the most active 
at the many meetings, taking part, as he did, in the examina- 
tion of a large proportion of the witnesses. 

With reference to the mails, the Committee strongly recom- 
mended increased expenditure for more frequent services, and 


an additional speed of about two knots which was shown to 
be practicable. In view of the then approaching com- 
pletion of the main railway system in India, they also recom- 
mended that Bombay should in future be the principal 
port of call. 

The following were the recommendations arrived at by 
the committee, in regard to the telegraph side of the 
inquiry l : 

(ist) That, having regard to the magnitude of the interests 
political, commercial and social involved in the connection 
between this country and India, it is not expedient that the means 
of intercommunication by telegraph should be dependent upon 
any single line, or any single system of wires, in the hands of 
several foreign governments, and under several distinct responsi- 
bilities, however well such services may be conducted as a whole, 
in time of peace. 

(2nd) That the establishment of separate lines, entirely or 
partially independent of the present line through Turkey, is 
therefore desirable ; and, in that view, that means should be 
taken for improving the condition and facilitating the use 
of the lines of telegraph which connect the Persian system with 

(3rd) That, with the view to better security against accident 
in time to come, the communication by the way of the Persian 
Gulf should be doubled, either by the laying of a second submarine 
cable, or by continuing the land line from Karachi and Gwadur 
to Bunder Abbas, and thence, under arrangements with the 
Government of Persia, to Ispahan, by way of Kerman and Yezd. 

(4th) That the scheme for establishing a direct communica- 
tion between Alexandria and Bombay, by way of Aden on 
the principle of a line practically under one management and 

1 Report on " East India Communications," Parliamentary 
Blue Book, 1866, p. viii. 

1865-1869 289 

responsibility, between London and the Indian Presidencies 
in the first instance, and afterwards with China, Japan and the 
Australian Colonies is deserving of serious consideration and 
such reasonable support as the influence of Her Majesty's Govern- 
ment may be able to bring to its aid. 1 

(5th) That considering the great outlay of guaranteed rail- 
way capital already incurred in the establishment of the tele- 
graph on the several lines of railway in India, it is expedient that 
means should be taken for affording the public the utmost bene- 
fit attainable from that expenditure. It is suggested that this 
could be effected either by the Government of India sanction- 
ing the use of the wires of the companies by a public company 
willing" to rent the privilege on equitable terms, or by such an 
organisation of the several independent companies as will estab- 
lish a unity of system, and bring the use of the lines fairly within 
reach of the public. 

(6th) That the magnitude of the interests involved in the 
trade of this country with China and Australia, and the rapidly 
increasing development of the colonies, render it desirable that 
arrangements should be made to bring these communities within 
the reach of telegraphic communication with Europe. 

(yth) The Committee also finally urge upon the Indian 
authorities the absolute necessity in the meantime of improving 
their internal arrangements, so as to remove all risk of delay in 
the transmission of messages from Karachi to the interior. 

Extension to the Far East 

Shortly after he had laid the Indian cables and the con- 
necting links were in some sort of working order, Sir Charles 
began to urge the question of extensions to Australia on the 
one hand and China on the other. 

He commenced the public ventilation of the subject in 

1 This suggestion of Sir Charles Bright was afterward s realised 
in the present vast system of the Eastern Telegraph Company. 



what has become a somewhat recognised fashon i.e. by 
writing a letter to The Times on the subject. Just as 
Charles Bright had been an original projector of the Atlantic 
cable, so also in this matter he was the first in the field. The 
result was that his letter met with some opposition from an 
anonymous writer. The lines which Sir Charles advocated 
have, of course, since been laid without any conspicuous 
difficulties being met with l ; and it is somewhat amusing 
in the present day to read the sort of objections that were 
then raised by " C."' and others. 

In the course of this correspondence as well as in his 
Institution of Civil Engineers' paper 2 later Charles Bright 
pointed out that owing to the already existing land-line 
system of the Indian telegraph, when the Persian Gulf 
and Mekran coast cables were laid, electrical communication 
existed as far eastward as Rangoon. He then drew atten- 
tion to the fact here, in the House of Commons, and at the 
Select Committee on " East India Communications," that 
" there would be no difficulty in selecting a cable route with 
a favourable bottom from Rangoon, at a short distance 
from the coast, to Singapore." He further pointed out 
that " between Singapore and Hong-Kong a cable could be 
readily carried in shallow water, touching at Saigon ; or the 
connection with China may be effected by crossing the penin- 
sula and laying a cable across the Gulf of Siam." Sir Charles 
then went on to say that to effect the same object a land 
line of telegraph was possible from Rangoon through Bur- 

1 They now form a part of the system of the Eastern Extension, 
Australasia and China Telegraph Company. 

2 Inst. C.E. Proc., vol. xxv. 

1865-1869 2gi 

mah and Western China ; " but," he added, " in uncivilised 
countries, communication by the aid of submarine cables, 
whenever practicable, is far more reliable.'' Bright then 
said : " Proceeding southwards from Singapore towards 
Australia, the first section, to Java, can be laid in shallow 
water, and hence to Timor. Indeed, with the exception 
of a short distance to the south of the latter island as 
yet not surveyed by soundings the remaining link to 
Australia can certainly be laid in shallow water." Finally, 
Sir Charles remarked : " The Australian telegraphs already 
extending between Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, 
and Port Denison a distance of about 2,400 miles are 
being pushed on northwards from the latter place towards 
the Gulf of Carpentaria. As the whole of the intermediate 
country is being rapidly occupied by settlers, there will 
be little difficulty in completing the link between the 
Australian telegraph system and the landing point of 
the cable." 1 

The first Company promoted with a view to putting these 
views into effect was the Oriental Telegraph Company, at 
the instance of Mr. Charles Edwards, M.P., and his associ- 
ates of the Telegraph Construction Company. Sir Charles 
was asked to act as technical expert in connection with 
this project. It was, however, subsequently abandoned in 
favour of others of a less ambitious character. 

1 The full Times correspondence as well as articles in The 
Observer and Saturday Review on the same subject are given in 
Appendix 15 to Vol. II of the original biography. 


The Anglo-Mediterranean Cable 

The first was that of the Anglo-Mediterranean Telegraph 
Company, formed in 1868 for the purpose of providing a 
direct and thoroughly efficient line of telegraph to Egypt. 
With this view a contract had been entered into for the pur- 
chase of certain lines through Italy, etc., and short lengths 
of cable which formed a connecting link with the French 
continental lines in communication with the Submarine 


Company's system. Then, besides taking over the old 
Malta and Alexandria cable of 1861, the Company undertook 
to establish fresh communications between Malta and Alex- 
andria, by means of a direct deep-water cable of about goo 
miles across the Mediterranean. This was found necessary 
owing to the constant failure of the old line between these 
points, which had been laid on a bad bottom in shallow water, 
touching at intermediate points along the north coast of 

The new cable was laid with complete success. The Tele- 

1865-1869 293 

graph Construction and Maintenance Company were the 
contractors, whilst Sir Charles acted in the double capacity 
of engineer and electrician to the " Anglo-Mediterranean " 
Company. This line gave every satisfaction afterwards as 
regards its working. The core was composed of copper con- 
ductor =150 Ib. per nautical mile, and gutta-percha dielec- 
tric =230 Ib. per nautical mile. The speed obtained was 
ninteen words per minute. 

The above afterwards formed the European end of that 
vast world-wide system of electro-metallic nerves to the 
East and Far East, now owned by the " Eastern " and 
" Eastern Extension " Telegraph Companies. 1 

Bright went out on the expedition. He journeyed over- 
land to join the ship at Marseilles, being busily engaged 
over parliamentary matters up to the last moment. From 
Marseilles he proceeded a day later to Messina, and there the 
first boat was taken for Malta, which was reached on Sep- 
tember 23rd, 1868. Here Bright spent two days with 
the Governor (Sir Patrick Grant, G.C.B.) and also visited 
the telegraph station. The following day the expedition 
started from Malta on the work of laying a direct cable to 
Alexandria, which, as before stated, was performed without 
hitch ; the completion being effected on October 4th. That 
evening we find Sir Charles dining with the Consul-General, 
the following day visiting Cairo, and afterwards the Pyramids 
with Mr. Douglas Gibbs 2 and other friends. After staying 
for three days in and about Cairo, for a fair, a religious fete, 

1 Vide Submarine Telegraphs. 

2 Formerly of the Electric Telegraph Company. Mr. Gibbs was 
representatve in Egypt of the cable system. 


and other social functions of interest, Charles . Bright and 
his party returned to Alexandria in time to. catch the 
P. & O. boat Manilla, for Marseilles. From there Sir Charles 
journeyed direct to Paris, which he left the same day by the 
tidal train for home. 

In connection with this new Mediterranean link, it may be 
mentioned that Bright in collaboration with Mr. A. S 
Ayrton, M.P. arranged a concession with the Austrian 
Government for a system of cables between Trieste, Ragusa, 
Corfu, and Malta, which afterwards culminated in the 
system of the Mediterranean Extension Telegraph Company, 
and was eventually merged with others. 

British Indian Lines 

The next great cable project with which Sir Charles was 
associated (beside his brother Edward, who acted as Secre- 
tary) was that of the British Indian Submarine Telegraph 
Company. This was the outcome of the previously referred 
to Anglo-Indian Telegraph Company which had been formed 
in 1867 f r the purpose of establishing direct telegraphic 
communication to India, by means of submarine cables, 
instead of relying upon land lines to the Persian Gulf, 
and a cable thence as heretofore. The " Anglo-Indian " 
Company, however (which had acquired the Egyptian 
landing rights of the "Red Sea" Company, and had 
secured as their engineers Sir Charles Bright and Mr. 
Latimer Clark), failed at the time to raise sufficient 
capital for carrying out the entire enterprise. This long 
and important line between Suez and Bombay was 

1865-1869 295 

ultimately manufactured and laid a year later by the 
Telegraph Construction Company. 

British Indian Extension, etc., Lines 

Next we have the extensions of the above lines. These 
extensions were to start from the Indian telegraph system 
to Penang, hence to Singapore. From the latter there were 
to be two branches, one towards Australia via the Straits 
Settlements, and the other up to Hong-Kong and other 
Chinese ports in which England was commercially interested. 
The line was afterwards further extended to Japan. This 
scheme was, in fact, the outcome of Sir Charles' original pro- 
ject, as set forth in The Times, in his paper on " The Tele- 
graph to India/' in the House of Commons, in Parliamentary 
Select Committees, and elsewhere. Besides the Oriental 
Telegraph Company previously referred to, another, en- 
titled the Anglo-Australian and China Telegraph Company 
of which Messrs. Bright & Clark and Messrs. Forde 
& Jenkin had undertaken to act as engineers -^had been 
formed several years before. But it was left for the com- 
bined forces of the newly formed British-Indian Extension 
Telegraph Company, the China Submarine Telegraph 
Company, and the British-Australian Telegraph Company 
at a time when more faith prevailed in submarine telegraphy 
to realise the project ; and from what has been said it 
will be seen that it was only in the nature of things that 
Sir Charles should have become the engineer to the above 
undertakings. In this capacity he was partnered by Mr. 
Latimer Clark and Mr. H. C. Forde. 

All these lines (entailing an enormous length of cable) 


were eventually laid with complete success within three years 
by the contractors, the Telegraph Construction Company. 

Marseilles, Algiers and Malta Line 

It was about this time that the Marseilles, Algiers, and 
Malta Telegraph Company was founded. This project 
viz., the telegraphic connection of these important Mediter- 
ranean ports by means of a cable touching the Algerian 
coast at Bona was also successfully accomplished. One 
of the objects of these scheme was to avoid the necessity 
of English messages going through the Italian lines, which 
were worked so badly or, indeed, any other land wires 
than those of France. 

Falmouth, Gibraltar and Malta Cable 

A few months later the Falmouth, Gibraltar, and Malta 
Telegraph Company was formed, to complete a direct sub- 
marine communication by telegraph between Great Britain 
and her Eastern possessions. Thus our fortresses at Gibraltar 
and Malta as well as our fleets would be in ready com- 
munication with the home Government ; and our messages 
to and from the East would no longer be dependent upon 
the goodwill or political condition of any continental nation ; 
besides that, the ordinary interruptions common to land 
wires were avoided. As we have seen before, the Govern- 
ment had such a link in mind several years previously, and 
Sir Charles had even been requested to draw up a specifica- 
tion for the cable ; but it was decided that owing to the 
existing continental land lines, other submarine communica- 

1865-1869 297 

tions were more urgent. It was for the same reason that 
the Falmouth, Gibraltar and Malta Company was preceded 
by the flotation of concerns for laying cables to India and 
the Far East. As the result of pressing advances on the part 
of the Portuguese Government, this cable was ultimately 
taken into Carcavellos, Lisbon, on its way to Gibraltar. 
The starting-point chosen for it eventually was not Falmouth 
but Porthcurnow, a quiet spot about ten miles from the 
Land's End the Company leasing a land line between 
there and London. For the purposes of this last contract, 
Sir Charles and Mr. L. Clark stood in the position of engi- 
neers to the Company, whilst Mr. Edward Bright was the 
first Secretary. 

All the above-mentioned schemes were put into effect 
during that peculiarly busy telegraphic period characterising 
the end of the seventh and the beginning of the eight decade 
of last century. The cables were, in each instance, laid by 
the Telegraph Construction Company, although owing to 
the great pressure of business at that firm's works, the 
manufacture of certain portions was undertaken by Mr, 

Rival Schemes 

Quite a number of rival companies were " floated " 
about the same time for effecting telegraphic communication 
with the East, Far East, America and other parts of the 
world some effective, some otherwise. The schemes, 
however, we have dealt with were those which were actually 
carried out, or with which Sir Charles was associated. 


In some of these rival projects it was proposed to adopt 
a cable without any iron sheathing. This was notably so 
in the case of the Direct English-Indian and Australian 
Submarine Telegraph Company's proposed line, of which 
Sir William Thomson and Mr. C. F. Varley l were the consult- 
ing electricians, but this project never took a practical shape 
indeed, notions of cables of this stamp were soon after- 
wards entirely abandoned. 

The " Eastern " Companies 

Some two years later the four companies owning the cables 
on the direct route to India were amalgamated into the 
now world-famous Eastern Telegraph Company. These 
companies and their cables (already referred to) were the 
so-called " Falmouth, Gibraltar, and Malta " ; the " Mar- 
seilles, Algiers, and Malta " ; the " Anglo-Mediterranean," 
and the " British-Indian/' To all of these Sir Charles 
Bright acted as consulting engineer. Their amalgamator 
and successor, the " Eastern " Company, now possesses by 
far the largest and, from a national point of view, the most 
important telegraphic system in the world. It was pro- 
moted under the chairmanship of Mr. Fender (afterwards 
Sir John Fender, G.C.M.G., M.P.), with Lord William 
Hay (now Marquis of Tweeddale) as vice-chairman ; and Sir 
James Anderson 2 became the general manager. 

1 Mr. Varley had always been a great advocate for unsheathed 
cables, just as Charles Bright had been opposed to them. 

2 Succeeded, since his death in 1893, by Mr. (now Sir) John Deni- 
son Fender, K.C.M.G., the present managing director. 

1865-1869 299 

This consolidation having been accomplished, in the follow- 
ing year the Eastern Extension, Australasia and China 
Telegraph Company was formed for absorbing those com- 
panies which owned the extension lines to the further side 
of India, the Straits Settlements, China, and Australia, pre- 
viously alluded to. The companies thus incorporated were 
the " British-Indian Extension," the " China Submarine," 
and the " British-Australian." The board of this amal- 
gamating company was an equally strong combination to 
that of the " Eastern " Company being, in fact, very 
similarly composed. 

Parliamentary Life 

A short time after Charles Bright had been elected member 
for Greenwich, Lord Palmerston's death took place and 
Earl Russell became leader of the Liberal party. 

In February, 1868, Bright questioned the Secretary of the 
Treasury as to the Government's proposed Bill to acquire 
the Telegraphs, with a view to keeping the " Magnetic " 
and other Companies advised ; and on the subsequent 
introduction of the measure by Mr. Ward Hunt, the then 
Chancellor of the Exchequer, he found its clauses were of a 
very confiscatory nature and obviously unfair to those who 
had developed the business and run all the risk. In combin- 
ation with Mr. Milner Gibson (afterwards Lord Houghton) 
he, therefore, opposed the second reading, and caused its 
postponement. This resulted in reasonable terms being 


arranged in the interval between the Government and the 

About the same time, Sir Charles also associated himself 
with Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton, Mr. Ayrton, Mr. John 
Locke and Mr. John Hanbury all fellow-members of the 
House of Commons in strenuously advocating the equalisa- 
tion of poor rates in the Metropolitan parishes. He pointed 
out that in the East and South-East districts of London, 
possessing the poorest population and where naturally 
there was a greater proportion of paupers the rates under 
the existing system were, most unfairly, the heaviest. 

This session closed Sir Charles' Parliamentary career ; 
for he was so closely engaged professionally that it became 
impossible to devote the requisite time to politics. Moreover, 
it was a very expensive borough in many ways, partly on 
account of its wide range at that period. It had, indeed, 
already cost Sir Charles over 4,000, and he had experienced 
many pecuniary losses of late. As a matter of fact, at the 
actual moment he was unable to return from Havana, where 
he was engaged as we shall see further on in the submer- 
sion of a cable between Cuba and Florida, which was destined 
afterwards to form the connecting link (devised by him) 
for bringing the West India Islands and the East and West 
Coast of South America, into communication with the United 
States, Europe, etc. indeed, with the rest of the civilised 

Thus, although strongly urged by his constituents at 
Greenwich to come forward at the dissolution at the end of 
1868, he felt obliged to decline. This he did in the follow- 
ing terms, as taken from The Times of October loth. 1868 : 

1865-1869 3 01 

The following is the copy of a letter just received from Sir 
C. T. Bright, M.P., in which he declines being put in nomination 
again as a representative for the borough of Greenwich : 

MALTA, September 

I have been detained in the West Indies longer than I expected 
owing to a mishap with the telegraph cable which I have been 
engaged in laying, and now I find that it will be necessary for me 
to return there after completing some business in the Mediter- 
ranean. As you were deputed by the meeting of Liberal electors 
prior to the last election to communicate to me the resolution, 
passed in my favour, I think I may ask you to be kind enough to 
make it known to the gentlemen who took part in that meeting 
and through them to the electors in different parts of the 
borough that I do not feel warranted in soliciting at the next 
election the suffrages of so populous a constituency as it has now 
become, with a prospect of a session of unusual labour and 
unequalled moment to the interests of the people, unless I could 
devote the whole of my time to the trust which I undertook. I 
beg you will also do me the favour should you be present at 
any meeting which may be held by the Liberal electors regarding 
the course to be pursued at the ensuing election of expressing 
my deep gratitude for their warm-hearted support and forbear- 
ance to me during the time that I have enjoyed the honour of 
being one of the representatives of the borough. With many 
thanks to you personally for the trouble you have taken regard- 
ing my position towards the borough on several occasions, 

I am, very truly yours, 


D. BASS, Esq. 

Sir Charles often characterised the House as " one of the 
pleasant est clubs going." He made many friends, one of 
the most agreeable though only a distant connection being 


the " Tribune of the People," John Bright, with whom there 
ensued many a pleasant game of billiards and interchange 
of thought at the Reform Club when temporarily out of reach 
of the " whips." There were, too, several civil engineers 
in Parliament at the time to wit, Mr. Robert Stephenson, 
Mr. J. d'Aguilar Samuda, Sir Daniel Gooch, etc. with all 
of whom Sir Charles was naturally intimate. 

Sir Charles also made many other Parliamentary friends. 
Amongst them were Sir Julian Goldsmid, Bart, (afterwards 
chairman of the Submarine Telegraph Company), Mr. Samuel 
Gurney (formerly chairman of the Atlantic Company) ; 
Sir John Lubbock, F.R.S. (now the Right Hon. Lord 
Avebury); Lord William Hay (now Marquis of Tweed- 
dale, a promiment spirit in submarine cable adminis- 
tration) ; Mr. (now Sir John) Aird , Sir Edmund Lech- 
mere, Bart.; Vice- Admiral Sir J. C. D. Hay, Bart.; Mr. 
Bernhard Samuelson ; Alderman (afterwards Sir James) 
Lawrence, and his brother, Alderman (afterwards Sir 
William) Lawrence ; Mr. Charles Edwards (partner in 
Messrs. Glass, Elliot & Co.) ; Mr. George Traill ; The Right 
Hon. George Sclater-Booth (afterwards Lord Basing) ; and 
his neighbour Sir John Kelk, in whose company he (Bright) 
usually returned home when the House rose at night. 

Whilst the prestige and interest of representing a great 
Metropolitan borough was considerable, the subject of this 
memoir soon found that it was not exactly a bed of roses, and 
he sometimes expressed the wish that he had been returned 
for the Land's End, or John o' Groats, whence a constituent 
could not interview him so readily. He found himself 

1865-1869 303 

incessantly pressed with deputations or applications about 
every conceivable fad or want appertaining to his enormous 
and particularly varied constituency. Not a chapel could 
be built, a bazaar opened, a " sing-song " be held, nor -a 
regatta started, without a requisition on his purse, or a desire 
being expressed for his personal presence. Even the sweeps 


on May Day, the boys on oyster eve, and the guys of 
November, all claimed him as their own the onus of refusal 
resting on his shoulders. 

Gladstone was at the moment in the unique position of 
being Prime Minister-elect without a seat, having just 
been defeated for West Lancashire. Accordingly, Sir 
Charles mentioned to the right honourable gentleman that he 


intended retiring, and suggested that he (Mr. Gladstone) 
might be disposed to stand in his stead. 

Besides being the youngest knight since the middle ages, 
Bright was also for some years the youngest member of the 
House of Commons. 

About the same time as his retirement from the House of 
Commons, the family left their town house for a new home 
near Chiswick. During the interval of removal, rooms were 
taken in Maddox Street ; and Sir Charles went down to 
Winchester for some days to see his eldest son, John, at the 
school. Another note in his diary indicates a visit to the 
Chinese Ambassador, but without any further particulars. 

At this period Bright dissolved his partnership with 
Mr. Latimer Clark. The firm of Bright and Clark had 
done much for the pioneering and extension of submarine 
telegraphy during the period of its existence. 


West India Cables 


The Florida-Cuba Line 

narrative has now reached what proved to be the 
most trying period of Sir Charles' active life. This 
represented the most arduous piece of work it has ever been 
the lot of man to carry through in the whole history of 
submarine telegraphy partly due to the irregularities of the 
sea bottom round about the coral-reefed islands of the 
West Indies, and partly to the unhealthy climate in these 
regions. In the end a number of the staff died, and others 
were invalided home. 1 Bright himself had at one time to 
succumb ; but the work was stuck to, and eventually 
carried through. 

First of all, in 1868, Sir Charles undertook the laying of 
a cable to connect Havana (Cuba) with the American 
telegraph lines of the United States, 2 via Key West and 

1 The landing of several of the cables entailed wading through 
pestiferous mud, undisturbed for ages past. 

2 Worked by the Western Union Telegraph Company by far 
the largest land-line system in the world. 

305 X 


Punta Rassa on the west coast of Florida. This formed 
but the commencement of a vast submarine system 
which he had had for some time in view for linking into 
the world's telegraphs the whole series of West Indian 
Colonies. These included islands belonging to England, Spain, 
France, and Denmark as well as Central America 

(Age 37) 

at Colon, Panama, and Georgetown, Demerara. The fore- 
going comprised twenty separate cables, each upwards 
of 700 miles in length, and laid in water 1,000 to 2,000 
fathoms deep. Moreover, land lines had to be erected on 
or across various islands, the whole network extending 
to over 4,000 miles. 1 This grand scheme was enlarged in 

1 This formed by far the greatest length connected with any single 
enterprise. Altogether some thirty-six shore ends were landed in 
a highly malarious climate, with a scorching sun overhead. 



order to include a festoon of cables on the east right 
along the whole coast of Brazil and thence to Buenos 
Ayres a distance of 4,140 miles ; while on the west side 
of the South American Continent Bright proposed to 
connect Panama southwards with Ecuador, Peru, and 
Chili, involving some 3,080 miles of cable ; and north- 
ward along the Pacific coast, to embrace Mexico another 
1,590 miles. These projects altogether amounted to nearly 
thirteen thousand miles, and were eventually all carried out 
in what was a comparatively short time under the particular 
circumstances. They entailed, however, a vast amout of 
labour and pecuniary risk not to mention several years 
spent in cable laying, coupled with serious loss of health 
on the part of Sir Charles. 

The cable between Florida and Havana was made by the 
India- Rubber, Gutta-Percha and Telegraph Works Com- 
pany at Silvertown, 1 for the International Ocean Telegraph 
Company of America, and was laid by Sir Charles from the 
s.s. Narva, which he joined in the States, whence he sailed 
on November 2ist. Shortly after his arrival on the scene of 
action, and after laying the above cable, Sir Charles penned 
the following letter to Lady Bright : 

HAVANA, January 8th, 1869. 
... On arriving here on Sunday I got all ready for starting, 

1 This firm had originated, as Messrs. Silver & Co., (shortly after 
the introduction of vulcanising india-rubber) as a general india- 
rubber manufactory, but being converted in 1864 into a limited 
liability company, its sphere of operations was extended to all 
sorts of telegraph work. Previously it had only covered quite 
short lengths of wire (with india-rubber) for Mr, C. V. West and 


and next day went out to grapple before daylight ; but, after 
two casts, the picking-up machine made in New York broke 
down, and I have been very busy ever since trying to get it right 
again. With the appliances I have for doing it, the job is very 
tedious and excessively vexatious. 

It has been blowing too hard for the last two days to do any- 
thing in the way of grappling, so I do not lose time. When it 
is fine I shall get hold of it very soon, I expect, and shall then 
return as quickly as possible. 

I shall not telegraph by what steamer I leave, as I don't 
want to be bothered with business for a few days after I get back, 
but shall wire " Yours of Wednesday or Saturday (as the case 
may be) received," by which you will understand that I leave 
by the steamer on that day of the week after my message. . . . 

He subsequently picked up and repaired the line in ques- 
tion the first Havana cable which had been laid in 1867 by 
Mr. F. C. Webb, who had the misfortune to lose no less than 
sixteen of his assistants and seamen from yellow fever 
during the work, besides being nearly shipwrecked when 
out of course off Cape Hatteras. The repairs were very 
difficult owing to the strong current of the Gulf Stream 
between the islands of Cuba and Key West ; but after 
weeks of grappling in about a mile depth of water - 
with a storm intervening Sir Charles completed the 

In connection with this success he was the recipient of 
an elaborate illuminated testimonial in acknowledgment 
from the International Ocean Telegraph Company. 


Preparations and Manufacture of Island Links 

On his return home, we find Sir Charles joining forces 
with General William F. Smith, President of the "Inter- 
national Ocean " Company, and Mr. Matthew Gray, the 
able Managing Director of the " India-Rubber Company '' 
of Silvertown, for the purposes of the West Indian telegraph 
extensions. The preliminary negotiations and arrange- 
ments occupied considerable time. Concessions and, in 
many cases, subsidies had to be obtained from the authori- 
ties of the various colonies and then ratified by their 
Governments, ere the great scheme could be laid before the 
public. Two companies, the West India and Panama 
Telegraph Co., and the Cuba Submarine Telegraph Co., 
were then formed, mainly by Sir Charles and his brother 
Edward among their " Magnetic " friends. The capital 
thus raised was about a million sterling. 

For the purposes of this undertaking, Bright took over 
and fitted the Dacia, a screw steamer of about 2,000 tons 
burthen, with special machinery of his design. After having 
her cut in half and increased in length by 40 feet to provide 
room for a large additional cable tank amidships she was 
also strengthened by a broad iron belt on her sides from 
stem to stern. Sir Charles bestowed special care on her 
paying-out gear and even more on her picking-up appara- 
tus, which latter is about the most efficient of its kind 
ever put on board a cable ship. The great feature in the 
gear was that it had a large margin of power, and therefore, 




showed no tendency to jerkiness under a heavy strain, 
such as is liable to cause rupture of the cable. In fact, its 
perfection was such that it might be likened to the certain, 
yet elastic, action of an elephant's trunk, in gently and 
steadily drawing up the grappling rope when raising a 
lost cable to the surface. The Dacia, and her gear, 


has since done as much useful work as any telegraph 
ship, and has probably done more repairs than any vessel 

The type of cable specified by Sir Charles was similar to 
that which had proved such a success in the heated waters 
of the Persian Gulf, the patent outer protective wrappings 



with Bright & Clark's compound being applied ; but the cop- 
per conductor was stranded instead of segmental, weighing 
107 Ib. per mile, while the gutta-percha weighed 166 Ib. per 
mile. There were as many as four types, made to suit the 
various depths. These consisted of very heavy shore ends 
weighing 16 tons per mile ; intermediate of 5 tons per mile ; 
and deep sea of 2,\ tons for depth up to 700 fathoms, and } 
for beyond that depth, i ton 12 cwt. The general character 



of the main cable was undoubtedly well chosen, 1 as the 
" open jawed " types adopted for the Atlantic cables of 
1865 and 1866 were already showing signs of deterioration. 
The whole of the 4,000 and odd miles, weighing nearly 
10,000 tons, were made at Silvertown by the India-Rubber 
Company between the latter part of 1869 and the summer 
of 1870, under the constant supervision of Sir Charles and 
a highly-trained staff, who afterwards went out to assist 

1 This form has been adhered to ever since partly on account 
of its characteristic durability, and partly on the score of immunity 
from marine borers and fish attacks. 


on the expedition. These consisted of Mr. J. R. France 
(who had previously acted as engineer to the Submarine 
Telegraph Co.) ; Mr. Leslie C. Hill, a prizeman of University 
College, who had been engaged in the laying of the French 
Atlantic cable ; Mr. Robert Kaye Gray (son of Mr. Matthew 
Gray, and now engineer-in-chief of the Silvertown Com- 
pany) ; Mr. E. March Webb (afterwards chief electrician 
to the same firm) ; Mr. Percy Tarbutt, subsequently a 
highly successful mining engineer ; Mr. F. L. Robinson, in 
charge of correspondence and accounts (now Secretary 
to the West Coast of America Telegraph Company) ; and 

The cable was shipped on the s.s. Dacia, on the s.s. 
Suffolk, a twin-screw bought by the companies to be 
stationed in the West Indies as a repairing ship ; and 
on three large sailing vessels chartered and fitted 
for the purpose. These were supplemented during the 
laying work by the s.s. Titian and s.s. International. A 
small steam-launch was also built to go out with the 
Dacia. She was christened the Beatrice, after Sir Charles' 
youngest daughter, now well known as a portrait painter. 1 

Sir Charles Bright sailed for New York about the middle 
of March, leaving Mr. France, the chief of his staff, to 
represent him during the remainder of the manufacture, 
shipment and voyage out, until he (Bright) joined the 
expedition on the scene of operations. The object of Sir 

1 This is a notable instance of taste running through a family, 
for Sir Charles and, indeed, most of his children had always 
shown a predisposition for the pencil, and even for the brush, as 
was shown in the original biography. 


Charles' mission was to meet General Smith with whom he 
stayed for some time to discuss business before making 
his way to Havana. 

The great expedition left the Thames in the summer of 

On June 7th a message reached London from Baltimore 
as follows : " Steamship Dacia total wreck, on outer 
north reef Bermuda. Sir Charles Bright on board. Three 
saved." This created a terrible sensation at first, on account 
of the many lives on board apart from the steamer and her 
cargo, which were insured for about 300,000. Those 
connected with the companies knew it must be a falsehood, 
as the Bermudas were fully a thousand miles out of her 
course. As a matter of fact, on the very day this supposed 
disaster was published, the Dacia reached the West Indies, as 
may be seen from the following letter written by Charles 
Bright to his wife, after he had joined the vessel : 

JAMAICA, June 25th, 1870. 

. . . The Dacia did not arrive at St. Thomas, our rendezvous 
till the 7th of this month. 

I left in her the same day for San Juan, Puerto Rico, where 
we arrived on the 8th and left next day. My birthday was 
celebrated on board the Dacia that evening by dressing the 
ship with lamps. On coming into Kingston on the I3th, the 
pilot ran us on to a mud bank, and I had to take out some of 
the cable forward to lighten the ship. It is very slow work 
uncoiling cable, so we did not get off till last night. The mail 
steamer which takes this also ran ashore, but she got off last 
night. I expected she would have some damage to repair, but 
she is coaling now and is to leave shortly so I must hurry 
through my letter-writing. 

Tell Robert I have received his letter and will write soon, but 


have as much as I can do just now ; moreover, the engine is 
running over my head taking the cable back into the ship, and 
the thermometer stands at 90 ! . . . 

About this time H. M.S. Vestal (Captain]. E. Hunter, R.N.), 
which had been specially detailed by the Admiralty to 
render any assistance possible, arrived on the scene. A little 
later, accompanied by her five consorts, the Dacia started 
off on her work. Sir Charles, however, met with quite 
unlooked-for difficulties ; for, although all the cable was 
said to have tested perfectly when shipped in the Thames, 
yet, on and after reaching the West Indies, serious faults 
developed. These had, of course, to be cut out, involving 
constant turning over from one tank to another, as set forth 
in Bright's diary. Thus great delay ensued with nearly 
every section, and in some instances the faults only showed 
themselves on submersion. The above defects occurred 
in the gutta-percha (mainly in the joints) and were occasioned 
by minute gas-bubbles forming between the layers, and 
bursting through either from the weight of the coils in 
the tanks, or from the pressure of the water at the bottom 
of the sea. A large number had to be removed. Though all 
were but tiny punctures like the prick of a pin they were 
sufficient to cause serious loss of insulation, which would 
have gone from bad to worse had they not then been repaired. 
Sir Charles and all the staff were greatly tried by these 
quite unexpected troubles. Nothing of the kind had ever 
occurred during the laying of the cables in the Persian 
Gulf or in other hot climates. 1 

1 Anent this, Bright's diary contains the following note : "I 
had not seen a bad joint in a completed cable for a long time." 



The result was most disastrous to the expedition. Over 
and over again, when some of these faults had been got at 
and removed after expending many days in turning over 
cable from one tank to another and as a start was being 
made for submerging a new section, at the last moment 
another joint would give way, and the turning over had to be 
renewed. It generally occurred towards the bottom of 



the coil in the tank where the greatest pressure existed 
and this meant recommencing the tedious process of clear- 
ing perhaps several hundreds of miles to get at it ! In this 
way week after week was taken up, rendering the under- 
taking more trying than ever to all engaged, in so broiling 
a climate. 

On two occasions further trouble arose by the cable 
parting in deep water during the operation of recovering 
faults that had passed overboard. One case like this 


unfortunately occurred midway between Colon and 
Jamaica when it had not been possible to take observations 
for a couple of days. This entailed months of grappling 
before the end could be found. The other was on the long 
section of nearly seven hundred miles, between Puerto 
Rico and Jamaica ; and although only about thirty miles off 
land was in very deep water and on such a rough and rocky 
coral bottom that about forty grapnels and several grappling 
ropes were broken, and weeks passed before the. cable could 
be recovered. It was a very different task to the com- 
paratively easy grappling for the Atlantic lines, where the 
cable hook is readily drawn along the surface of the ground 
through soft ooze. 

Sir Charles had calculated on completely finishing his 
task vast as it was within a year ; but it took him a good 
deal longer in the end. He suffered very heavily by these 
terrible and unlooked-for delays, which immensely increased 
the cost of the work. Still, though so heavy a loser both 
in pocket and health, he bore it all throughout with 
equanimity ; and, although greatly discouraged by this 
untoward turn of affairs, he and his brother Edward who 
eventually joined him stuck to it till every section was 
complete and in perfect order. 

The scheme of the Panama and South Pacific Telegraph 
Company in connection with the West Indian system at 
Panama for cables down the west coast of South America 
was ultimately abandoned. 

During the manufacture of this Panama and South Pacific 
cable, the late Lord Sackville Cecil half-brother to the 


Premier of that time acted for Sir Charles in his absence 
abroad. He had been a pupil of Sir Charles', and electrically 
tested this cable up to the time its manufacture ceased. 


Laying the Cables 

Operations were commenced at the beginning of July 
(1870) from the terminus of the International Ocean line. 
This point was to be the junction connecting Cuba and the 
American United States Telegraph system with the whole 
of the West Indies and Colon for Panama. 

The first sections to be laid were those of the Cuba Sub- 
marine Telegraph company along the south side of that 
island the " Pearl of the Antilles," from Batabano (already 
connected by two land lines with Havana) to Cienfuegos, and 
thence on to Santiago. The latter portion was laid without 
much difficulty, in tolerably deep water ; but the first part 
from Batabano proved exceedingly troublesome, as the 
shallow and narrow channels of approach were composed 
of tortuous passages amidst coral reefs and rocky islets for 
some forty-five miles. Batabano is the southern terminus of 
a short railway across the narrow part of Cuba from Havana. 
It was of the greatest importance, both to the Government 
and the mercantile community, that a reliable line of tele- 
graph should thus be established with Cienfuegos, a large 
port, and still more with Santiago, the second city of this 
vast and prosperous country. The existing land lines through 
the wild interior worked badly at all times ; but these were 


also constantly interrupted by the " Cubanos "Creoles, 
or born inhabitants, of the island who were, proverbially, 
in a state of chronic revolt against the Spaniards' rule. 

While the channels to Batabano were being further 
sounded, Sir Charles went to Havana, accompanied by 
Sefior Lopez an elderly gentleman especially attached to the 
expedition in order to arrange various matters with the 


authorities. The Sefior, who was a friend of Sir Charles' in 
England, was an excellent negotiator and interpreter, besides 
being closely related to the then Governor, General Lopez. 
Sir Charles and the Sefior were received with the greatest 
consideration by the various dignitaries, and, while there, 
were made honorary members of the " Cercle Espanol." 
This Club is worth describing, as the building at that time 
strange as it may seem constituted by far the largest 
club-house in the world ; the " Carlton " and " Reform " 
rolled into one club would not equal it in size. There were 


twenty-three billiard tables occupying part of one floor, 
the Club being built in quadrangle form. The luncheon 
and dining accommodation was on a very large scale. There 
was an immense library, an extensive well-fitted gymnasium, 
and a superb ball-room. The latter had two side rows of 
marble pillars and intermediate tropical palms, tree ferns, 
and flowers, which formed a sheltered promenade of no mean 
order. While Sir Charles and Senor Lopez were in the Club 
an attack was made upon it by a party of the " Cubanos," 
and some lively revolver shooting took place in the streets, 
until the disturbance was quelled by the authorities. 

As the result of the survey, many more shoals were 
revealed than had hitherto been thought of. To avoid 
these would have involved a detour of 360 miles, as they 
extended far out to sea. Thus Sir Charles had to employ 
" sugar flats," towed by a light-draught Spanish gunboat, the 
Alarma', and as a heavy type of cable was necessary, the 
work entailing much manual labour became very trying, 
especially as each short section had to be jointed. Con- 
cerning this, Sir Charles remarks in his diary : 

Working in boats under a burning sun knocks up the men 
very soon, and the joints take very long to make, as we are out 
of ice * and cannot get any more without going to Batabano 
and telegraphing for it to Havana whence to Batabano there 
is only one train a day, and that in the early morning. 

On the first completion of this section, Charles Bright 
wrote home to his wife as follows : 

1 This, or some cooling mixture, is always necessary for subse- 
quently handling a gutta-percha joint in tropical climates. 




July 3Oth, 1870. 

... I have had a very tough job getting seventy-five miles 
of cable laid over shallow water, and got aground again in this 
ship. The place is full of shoals. The charts are good for nothing, 
and the pilots only used to very small ships. This is the biggest 
ship that has ever been here. 

I am very well, though having an anxious piece of work 
almost a labour of Hercules in its complication but I think I 
am better when I am hard at it ! Am busy now testing the 
cable we have laid, as there is a small fault near shore here which 
I have come back to take out, so must stop writing. . . . 

But after the laying of this troublesome and exhausting 
section was effected, Sir Charles had to go back no less than 
three times to cut out faults that showed themselves. 

The following letter, written about this time to Lady 
Bright, serves to recount some of the above troubles : 


Aiigust i()th, 1870. 

... I wrote you from this (blessed) place on the 3Oth July, 
and never hoped to see it again. After no end of trouble to get 
the cable right then, owing to the shallow water, rocks, squalls, 
and troubles of every kind (including getting the Suffolk aground 
half a dozen times, but luckily without getting a rock through her 
bottom), we at last finished, and went to the other end of our 
lines, about seventy-five miles off ; but we had not been paying 
out long from the Dacia and in fact, had just got in deep water 
when another fault showed itself. It was half-past four in 
the morning, and I was luckily on deck to stop the ship at once. 
On testing we found the fault near this end ! Was not that 
vexing, after spending three weeks in these abominable waters, 
to have to come back and do all the work over again ? I have 
only a few ounces of patience left, out of, I should think, many 


tons which I must have brought from Jamaica ! but I have 
got it all right again, and leave to-morrow morning for the Dacia 
off Diego Perez to join on to the deep sea, and go on paying out. 

I have not had a letter from you of later date than June i5th, 
nor have I seen an English paper for months ! We might as 
well be in the Pacific Ocean as on the south side of Cuba for get- 
ting any English news. I can give you very little news of myself 
except that which you will like best to know, that I am well, 
and no one on the sick list on either of the ships. I am always 
particular about the ships having plenty of ventilation. At 
Cienfuegos, when we were there, there was yellow fever, cholera, 
and small-pox all at once raging in the town ; so I put the town 
in quarantine, and would not let any one have liberty to go 
ashore in fact I only went four times myself, which I was 
obliged to do on business. 

You will all have gone to the seaside, I think. For myself, 
I don't want to see the sea for ever so long again. . . . 

Eventually the Cuban line was in complete operation 
on September 2nd, and a little later Sir Charles opened the 
telegraph office to the public. 

As a slight return for all the attention paid him in the 
island of Cuba, Sir Charles gave a picnic party when near 
Havana : an excursion was made to a beautiful hill, from 
which lovely views were obtainable. 

The Dacia and the rest of the fleet arrived at Santiago on 
August 27th. While at this picturesque seaport approached 
by a long narrow entrance between cliffs Sir Charles and 
his staff were hospitably received, on several occasions, by 
Mr. F. W. Ramsden, the British Consul, and Mrs. Rams- 
den, who did everything to make their temporary visits 

On the first visit a strong shock of earthquake occurred 


at night, shaking the hotel in which they were quartered. 
Every one bolted downstairs and into the street in their 
sleeping attire ; but the quickest of all was Senor Lopez, 
though stout and about seventy years of age. He flew down 
the stone stairs taking two or three at a bound, arriving 
outside in the scantiest of raiment mainly pyjamas 
lengths in advance of Sir Charles, who started before him. 
The Senor knew what an earthquake out there sometimes 
meant ! The streets were full of residents, many absolutely 
in puris natur alibis, as is very much the custom at night in 
that warm climate. Only a few minor buildings were, 
however, wrecked on this occasion. Regarding this a 
Jamaica newspaper l reported as follows : 

The earthquake at Santiago on Sunday last was a serious 
affair. At nine a.m., during High Mass, a terrific shock was 
felt, shaking the foundations of houses in the city. The people 
in the Cathedral and from all the dwelling-houses rushed out in 
great numbers, almost undressed, and perfectly terror-stricken. 
The shrieks were heard on board the vessels of the Expedition, 
fully a mile from the shore. A second shock followed, producing 
renewed consternation on land. Boats from the Expedition were 
sent on shore to offer any assistance that might be requisite. A 
few buildings were thrown down. 

The same journal describes the general proceedings about 
this time in these words : 


The Dacia, Vestal, Suffolk, and two Spanish gunboats in 
Santiago, arrived there on the 27th with cable working beauti- 

1 The Jamaica Gleaner, September loth, 1870. 


fully. Telegrams from London daily. Festivities, balls, seren- 
ades, dinners, picnics, in honour of the expedition. Sir Charles 
Bright presented with freedom of the city. No other instance 
like this in Santiago since conquest. Expedition will probably 
leave Santiago on Saturday for Holland Bay. Five steamers 
will form the expedition. 

In a subsequent number this paper reported as follows : 


August 28th, 1870. 

There were great rejoicings here over the cable success ; the 
whole harbour has been grandly illuminated last night in honour 
of the event. In all directions fireworks are shooting in the air. 
The enthusiasm in favour of Sir Charles Bright has been at its 
height. Fourteen hundred volunteers marched in procession, 
and then chartered steamers and sailed round the Dacia in honour 
of the expedition. They presented a brilliant array of lights. 
The foreigners gave " God save the Queen," with thrilling effect, 
and simultaneously uncovered at the playing of the tune. 

The Dacia, Suffolk, and H.M.S. Vestal were gorgeously illum- 
inated during this imposing ceremony. The enthusiasm of the 
people of Santiago knew no bounds General Valmaseda and 
2,000 citizens visited the Dacia in order to present their voluntary 
congratulations to Sir Charles Bright. 

August yoth. The rejoicings over the success of the cable still 
continues. Private families in groups have caught the enthusi- 
asm, and are paying their respects in person. Every public body 
in Cuba has addressed Sir Charles Bright. Clergymen of 
the United States have been entertained on board the Dacia. 
Mr. Ramsden, the British Vice-Consul, gave a dinner to-day ; 
and, in response, the city gave a grand dinner. 

The festivities are likely to last for several days. 

September 1st. The Cuban shore-end from Batabano was laid 
yesterday morning. The inhabitants turned out, General 
Valmaseda and the officials were up at 5 a.m. to see the splice 


The clubs enthusiastic. 

There was even a regatta in honour of the expedition. 

The fleet was decorated throughout with bunting. 

And later this journal announced : 

On the 5th, the Governor of Santiago gave a banquet to Sir 
Charles Bright. Complimentary speeches were made in honour 
of the expedition. 

On Thursday, the Spanish Circulo gave a picnic in the country, 
to which Sir Charles and his officers were invited. The country 
house and its approaches were brilliantly illuminated in the 

On Friday, General Valmaseda gave a grand ball to com- 
memorate the successful laying of the cable. 

On Saturday, the British Consul, Mr. Ramsden, gave an evening 
party ; and on Sunday afternoon, thousands of persons from 
the city visited the fleet. 

During this period the Franco-German War was in full 
swing. Sir Charles had occasion to exercise a little tact in 
this connection even so far away as the West Indies as 
may be gathered from the following report in the Jamaica 
Gleaner aforesaid : 

The French vessel of war Talisman arrived at Santiago de 
Cuba, it is said in search of the Prussian gunboat Meteor. The 
Prussian Consul applied to Sir Charles Bright to forward a tele- 
gram to Havana to the Consul-General. Sir Charles, not liking 
to interfere in any way with the neutrality of nations, applied 
to the Consul-General for advice ; and was informed that Spain 
being a neutral Power, they would not like to give advantage 
to either party. Sir Charles therefore politely declined to permit 
the cable to be used for this purpose, and the French steamer 
Talisman immediately put to sea. 


The laying of the " Cuba " Company's lines being at last 
brought to a successful issue, the " West India and Panama " 
series of cables had to be tackled. Continuing in the route, 
the first section of this system to be laid was naturally 
that from Santiago (Cuba) to Holland Bay, on the north-east 
coast of Jamaica. 

Whilst all the preceding festivities were going on, pre- 
parations were being made for the laying of these future 
sections by the turning over of great lengths of cable from 
one tank to another in order to remedy a sticky condition 
which had proved a great source of trouble in paying out. 1 
Indeed, it was only owing to this being necessary as soon as 
the Cuban lines were completed and partly on account of 
faults in the insulation that social entertainments as 
above described could be given time for. 

The Cuba- Jamaica cable was laid after some trouble (start- 
ing on September I3th), but without any incident of special 
or novel interest. The shore end was landed near Plantain 
Garden Harbour, in Holland Bay, and the final splice effected 
on September i5th. 

Almost immediately on arrival, the Vicar of St. Thomas', 
Morant Bay, several miles off boarded the Dacia and 
presented the following address to Sir Charles. This is 
reproduced as being characteristic of wordy elaboration 
such as " gentlemen of colour "are prone to especially when 

1 The above stickiness of the outer compound and a want of lime 
are matters noted in Sir Charles Bright's diary as entirely novel 
experiences, such as he had never before met with in laying cables 
in the Persian Gulf, or other tropical climates. 


associated with the pulpit or bench. The exact meaning of 
some of the phrases and passages is sometimes difficult to 
decipher. Maybe, however, in this very touch of mystery 
lay the charm of the address to those members of the 
Vicar's flock who attached their names to this well-meant 
"masterpiece of English literature." 


To Sir Charles Bright, of the Telegraph Expedition, etc. 

HONOURABLE SIR, We, the inhabitants of the Parish of St. 
Thomas, desire very respectfully to thank you, for your presence 
in our midst, not only as a distinguished individual, but con- 
nected as you are with the discovery of a science, hitherto unknown 
among the ancients, but, confining its Mystic achievements to the 
select few of the present generation, among whom, you, Sir 
Charles Bright, bear a conspicuous part, and also for the Com- 
pany's selection of our Seaboard at Holland Bay as the vehicular 
channel of communication with the Metropolis of the world. 

That, notwithstanding the difficulties and calamities through 
which we have recently passed, yet, it is our firm belief, that St. 
Thomas will, in the good providence of God, be the Pioneer in 
leading on Jamaica to ultimate beneficial results. For within 
the brief period of five years of her political reconstruction, Capi- 
talists, men of genius, commercial men, and an enterprising 
galaxy of Scientific men, have, with a wonderful combination, 
spent more money for the development of the resources of the 
Island than has been done during any former Government. 

Thanks for the. name of " Saint Thomas," and to our worthy 
Governor, Sir John Peter Grant, and his official and lay associates 
in the legislative Council of Jamaica. Thanks to our beloved 
" Queen Victoria," and her Constitutional advisers, for conferring 
on us " Crown Government," and delivering us from the yoke 
of oppression and wrong. An official, of limited perception of 
our geographical importance, willing to pay homage to his con- 


stituents rather than to his employers, very recently published 
in his " Report " on education that the inhabitants of St. Thomas 
could not worthily be contrasted with either of the parishes of 
Manchester and Saint Elizabeth in point of mental culture and 
the development of civilisation, in ignorance, too, that superior 
men of genius, enterprise, and benevolence, selected this parish 
for the introduction and importation of a new method of abceda- 
rian instruction in " Telegraphy," the letters of which will never 
be deciphered by the pharisaical declamation of the Reporter, 
and which will and in all probability may be taught by one 
of the many rustics employed in connection with the Company's 
works and offices, and which will cause the inhabitants of Man- 
chester and Saint Elizabeth to hide their diminished heads in the 
clefts of the rocks in their mountain fastness. 1 

And we fervently pray that He who first diffused the genius, 
by the inspiration of His Spirit, into the minds of men in its 
incipient conception of " Telegraphy " for the good of mankind, 
will, with the knowledge thus conferred, abundantly provide 
the means for its furtherance, to the remotest parts of the earth, 
with a large marginal surplus for compensation to those who 
labour and struggle with the gigantic undertaking. 

And we further pray that the time may soon come when the 
shores of " Africa " will be visited by " Telegraphy," and that 
as a continent with her varied Nationality, contribute her share 
in the disbursement of the general outlay, and the knowledge of 
the " Lord " cover the earth as the waters of the mighty deep 
With profoundest respect, we are, Sir Charles, 

Your obedient, humble servants, 
# # # 

(Here followed a number of signatures representing the congre- 
gation of St. Thomas', Morant Bay.) 

The next day Sir Charles landed the shore ends for the 

1 It is not every day that one falls upon so long a sentence as the 
above ! 


cable to Colon (Panama) and Puerto Rico respectively, 
and at 11.30 that night the telegraph fleet proceeded to 
Kingston, which was reached at 9 a.m. the following 

Here, again, it was necessary to feed the " laying " 
vessels with a further supply of cable, to the extent of nearly 
700 miles, from the ships holding the reserve stock, before 
further work could be proceeded with. This meant spending 
several weeks at the chief town of our principal West 
Indian colony ; and, when once the programme became 
known, it was a signal for more festivities ashore. 

The whole town had been in a state of feverish excite- 
ment the day before, as soon as the inhabitants had satisfied 
themselves as to the working of the cable to Cuba, which 
(by means of the connecting land-line across to Holland 
Bay) put them into telegraphic communication for the 
first time with the American United States, the Mother 
country, and the whole of Europe. Many had journeyed 
to Port Royal in order to see the first of the telegraph 
squadron and offer greetings. 

Whilst the expedition was at Kingston, Bright spent 
most of his time ashore attending to various business, whilst 
his orders in the way of cable transference were being 
carried out on the ships. First of all he opened the new 
telegraph office there. Then he had to call on a number 
of people on official matters, all more or less connected with 
the welfare of the cable systems. 

Then various dinners had, in a similar way, to be given 
and received. 

Sir Charles had a real pleasure in getting ashore again, 


if only to get into touch with home matters once more 
by telegraph as well as through the newspapers. 

Soon after landing, an address was presented to him 
which was thus reported in the local journals : 


At eleven o'clock on Wednesday a deputation from the Royal 
Society of Arts waited upon Sir Charles Bright at the Telegraph 
Station, to present him an address from the Society on the suc- 
cessful laying of the telegraph cable to Jamaica. The Hon. 
Secretary read the address, as follows : 

SIR, We, the undersigned, Members of the Council and 
General Members of the United Royal Agricultural Society and 
Society of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce, of this Island, 
deem it our peculiar duty and privilege to welcome you to our 
shores, and to thank you in the name of the inhabitants of this 
ancient and loyal Colony, for the benefits Social, Political, 
Scientific, and Commercial likely to result from the great work 
you have lately so satisfactorily accomplished in connecting this 
country by Electric Cable with Europe, America, and the Neigh- 
bouring Islands. 

In recognition of your important services the Society has 
unanimously elected you an Honorary Member a position we 
hope you will do us the honour to accept. And we beg that 
you will receive our cordial congratulations and good wishes to 
yourself, and for the further success of this great enterprise, 
destined, in its completeness, to link together the Nations of 
the Earth. 

Dated at Kingston, Jamaica, this 28th day of September, 1870. 

Sir Charles, in reply, said he felt very highly honoured by the 
bestowal of membership, especially caponing from such high 
quarters. These addresses, when presented to engineers, are 
looked upon as of very great value, and are prized as much as 


the glittering stars on the breasts of some. He thanked the 
Society heartily for the high honour conferred upon him. Sir 
Charles then invited the deputation to visit the operating room, 
when messages were sent to Holland Bay and speedily replied to. 
Sir Charles desired the operator to ask Holland Bay to send a 
few lines, which was done accordingly. 

The address to Sir Charles was accompanied by a beautiful 
cabinet-box of photographs of all the islands, the box being 
entirely made from native wood. This gift was greatly 
appreciated, and was always prized by Bright in after 

A number of private dances were also given, amongst 
other festivities, by the leading people of Kingston and 
round about, as well as aboard H.M.S. Vestal. Then 
finally, we find the following extract in the Jamaica 
Despatch : 

On Thursday night last a grand subscription ball was given in 
this city in honour of our distinguished guest, Sir Charles Bright. 

Thus ended the festivities, and on the following day 
(October nth) Sir Charles left Kingston in the Vestal for 
Colon, the transference of cable having got sufficiently 
advanced to allow of making further preparations for the 
subsequent sections. 

Colon was reached on the i6th inst., and the Consul-General 
at once boarded the Vestal. 

Across the isthmus between here and Panama a land 
telegraph already existed. The connection to it by the cable 
to Panama was one full of importance ; for the traffic and 


mails from the whole of the western coasts of the entire South 
and Central American continent concentrate at Panama. 
The next day (October I7th) Bright left that ship to go round 
Manzanilla Bay to select the landing-place for the cable. 
On the same evening a banquet was given by the town to 
Sir Charles, at which another flow of speeches occurred. 

Bright had previously received a special request to unveil 
the statue of Christopher Columbus, which had just been 
erected there at the instance of the Empress Eugenie. This 
he arranged to do the following day. 

That same afternoon saw the arrival of the Dacia with all 
the necessary cable on board. On the next day Sir Charles 
had to journey to Panama on official business, and that 
evening he dined with President Correoso. This was on 
October 20th, and Bright notes in his diary that on the 2ist he 
visited H.M.S. Zealous with Admiral Farquhar On the 22nd 
Sir Charles returned to Colon (or Aspinwall, as it is some- 
times called) by special train ; and that evening the 
American Consul paid him a visit aboard the Dacia. 

And now a sad story must be recorded. Since Sir Charles 
Iqft Kingston he found that sickness had occurred amongst 
his " shipmates "cable hands and sailors for'ard. Several 
had to be sent to hospital, and one had ultimately died of 
yellow fever. Though frequently having to go (and remain) 
ashore himself, Bright had done his best to prevent the rest 
of the ship's company from doing so. However, for the 
purposes of landing the cable, this could not be avoided 
entirely. Moreover, the landing spot was often by force 
of circumstances situated in the midst of a malarial 


district, besides being unhealthy in other respects, 1 and to 
make matters worse the ship's doctor had resigned ! 

On October 23rd, the ships went round to the bay selected 
for landing the cable, but a heavy swell from the 
north-east prevented work. 

Sir Charles notes in his diary for the next day as follows : 

Monday, October 24th, 5 a.m., weather moderating ; ordered 
steam. 8.30 a.m., got into position for landing S.E. ; moored 
to wharf and buoy by stern. 

The heavy shore end had to be landed on a mud bank and 
dragged to the cable-house through a pestiferous swamp 
forming part of the neighbouring lagoons. The result was 
that Sir Charles and others employed in the work caught 
malarial, or " chagres," fever. This had just previously 
killed one of the two doctors of that fever den, whilst the 
other had been invalided home to the States ; thus, the 
outlook in the strictest sense was not a bright one 2 ; 
in fact a general depression ensued which Sir Charles had 
to do his best to check. But there was a vast amount 
more trouble and sadness in store. 

The shore end having been landed, paying out towards 
Jamaica was started on at 3 p.m. the same day (October 

The following facsimile reproduction of a few lines in 

1 It may be mentioned here that, in addition to lime-juice, Sir 
Charles had doses of quinine regularly dispensed to all on board. 
The sailors at first objected. He had it, however, mixed with their 
rum ; so that they had to absorb the quinine, or leave the " grog ! " 

2 As a further instance of the pestiferous character of the climate, 
it was a saying that during the building of the Colon-Panama Rail- 
way " every sleeper represented a man who had died on the work." 


Sir Charles' diary for this day, concerning the course, is 
given as an example of how he attended to everything of 
importance himself 

This diary neatly kept notwithstanding the anxieties 
and grief caused by the nature of his work, and sickness 
and death amongst his staff serves to illustrate his 
patience and fortitude under adverse circumstances, besides 
giving an idea of the life, routine and troubles associated 
with cable work. His notes appear to have been usually 
entered in the dead of night, between watches, and at 
moments when least liable to disturbance. They were 
drawn up with uniform precision and neatness throughout 
the expedition. 

1 October 25, 8 a.m. Laid 79 miles. Light breeze, smooth 
sea. Midnight, laid 162. Wind freshening. . . . 

1 The four hours' recurring records of speed of ship, cable laid, 
strain, barometer, etc., are in most cases omitted from these diary 


October 26, 4 a.m. . . . Blowing fresh from southward and 
westward, ship pitching a good deal. 8 a.m., changed to No. I 
tank. In changing, the bight .fouled a piece of spare cable at 
the bottom of the tank, but got clear. 

The Calif ornian, Liverpool steamer, passed at 0.50 p.m., and 
reported her position at noon then being about five miles astern 
of our position. 

(N.B. None of the calculations, either of Calif ornian, Dacia, 
or Vestal, agreed with one another. All the calculations are by 
" dead reckoning," it being too thick for noon observations.) 
4 p.m. laid 240 miles. ... 

October 27, 6.55 a.m. Finding a fault outside ship, made 
fast hawser from bow sheave to cable at stern and let go ; but 
the warp parted, in roughish weather, and we lost the cable. 1 

Heavy storm with thunder and shifting squalls. 

Put down large conical buoy with blue flag. buoy No. 2. 

Estimated distance from Colon 320 miles, cable paid out 
367. Weather too bad to do anything. 

At 3 p.m., Seaton, 2nd foreman, died of fever ; buried at 
8 p.m. Did the best we could in the way of a funeral service 
at sea. 

Friday, October 28. Blowing fresh. 'Heavy swell, but looking 
better. Could do nothing in morning, drifting to W. Buoy 
bearing S. 82, E., showing a 2 knot westerly current. 

Lowered grapnel in afternoon with 1,200 fathoms of rope and 
30 fm. i in. chain. 

Saturday, 29th. The buoy not in sight. Blowing strong from 
E.S.E., sea moderating. Riding to grappling rope. In after- 
noon weather bright and clear, commenced heaving in on line. 
Sighted buoy from top gallant yard J point on starboard bow, 
apparently adrift. 

1 Owing to the lack of recent observations it ultimately took 
many weeks to recover and complete the above section, as will be 
seen in these pages. 


4 p.m., picked up buoy and let go another with two mushroom 
anchors, 3 and 4 cwt. respectively. 

9 p.m., in position for grappling again ; lowered grapnel. 

October 30 (Sunday). Grappling all day, from last night's 

7 a.m. Ship's head N.E. by E., rope leading well ahead. 
Light breeze from E. J N. Foresail and topsail set, going with 
wind and current. 

ii p.m. Wind freshening, and grappling rope leading further 

11.50. Strain increasing, and dynamometer wheel rising and 
falling violently. 

October 31, 4.20 a.m. Commenced heaving in, strain increasing 
suddenly on starting engine and going back, or stopping ; 
appears to be fast on rock. 4.45, put on slow motion. 5.10, 
strain up suddenly. 

5.15 a.m. Grappling rope parted between dynamometer and 
bow-sheave ; end struck Captain Dowell, who was by the bow 
sheave, and knocked him down insensible, but no cut. 5.30, 
Dowell better ; wind increasing and sea getting up. 

Lost 800 fathoms rope, 7 swivels, 30 fathoms f- inch chain, 2 
large swivels and fittings, and I large grapnel. 

10.30 a.m. Vestal some miles S., fires a gun, went to her, 
and at 11.30 sighted buoy. . . . Took long time to get buoy 
on board, owing to heavy sea and wind. . . . Lost chain and 
grapnel ; end of buoy rope chafed by rocks. 

November i. Grappling all day. Blowing fresh, heavy sea. 
10 a.m., Vestal signals she is short of coal, and will have to return 
to Port Royal. 

10.30 a.m. Too much to the West for the cable. Began 
taking in ropes. Having only 60 tons of coal on board, and 
requiring 40 to reach Kingston, decided to return to take in coal. 
Started at 1.15 p.m. Heavy sea, blowing hard. . . . 

November 3. Heavy sea. Ship rolling a good deal. 

November 4. Blowing hard, heavy sea. Only 100 miles run 
at noon since yesterday. 


November 5. Wind moderating. Land of Jamaica just in 
sight in the morning. 0.40, took pilot on board, who says it 
is the worst weather they have had for 25 years, and that every- 
body looks for a hurricane. 1 2.30 p.m., Gillespie died of fever. 

6 p.m., buried Gillespie at sea off Jamaica. 2 8 p.m., H. Mitchell 
died of fever. Midnight, buried Mitchell at sea off Jamaica. 

Sunday, November 6. Anchored in Kingston harbour at 8 
a.m., and sent the sick men to hospital. 

November 7. At Blundell Hall ; sent convalescent hands to 
Bellevue ; coaling Dacia at wharf. 

Soon after landing, Sir Charles penned the following to 
Lady Bright. Foreseeing that his wife was sure to hear 
probably in an exaggerated form the sad tidings, he thought 
it best to tell her himself how things were, if only to allay 
worse apprehension. 


November jth, 1870. 

I know that a short letter will be better than none. I have 
two of yours to reply to. I am writing against time. Am quite 
well. Lost end of Colon cable, which will give me some trouble ; 
the particulars you will find in the enclosed paragraph. It was 
bad weather, and a squall came on during a ticklish operation 
with the cable. . . . 

I cannot write much. I am pestered from day to night with 
somebody or something turning up. Am sorry to say I have 
had much trouble with sickness on board the Dacia : buried 
three of my cable hands, one a foreman, on our voyage from 
Colon to Jamaica. I suppose you would hear of it from some 

1 This meant much, for the Caribbean Sea is often subjected to 
very disturbed conditions. 

2 Owing to the Captain's illness, Sir Charles had on several occa- 
sions to read the burial service over his late " shipmates." 


one else, and most likely made worse than it has been. I have 
cleared the men out of the ship, and sent some to hospitals, 
and some to the mountains. All going on well now, but fear I 
shall lose one or two more. . . . 

This sad and depressing story is best continued by extracts 
from the diary necessarily in a somewhat matter-of-fact 
form, as follows : 

November 8. Richardson (jointer) died in Kingston Hospital 
of fever. Commenced cleaning and fumigating Dacia. 

November 9, Whittingstall (foreman) died in the hospital 
of fever. Buried Richardson at 5 p.m. 

November 10. 9 a.m. Whittingstall buried. Rose died in 
hospital of fever. 

November n. Welhamdiedof fever at the hospital. 5 p.m., 
Rose buried. 

Having in mind the trouble which the cable had given, and 
the serious losses by death, Sir Charles had foreseen even 
before starting on this last section that he would require 
additional assistance. Accordingly, before leaving Colon, he 
had sent a " cable " to his brother Edward requesting him 
to come out to help him. Sir Charles now determined that 
under prevailing conditions it would be best to get on with 
the other sections for the present. 1 Moreover, his brother 
had " wired " in reply to say he was coming out by the 
first mail ; so the first thing to be done (after shifting some 
cable between the ships) was to take the fleet to St. Thomas, 
the rendezvous and starting-point for future operations. 

1 This decision was made partly in order to get to more healthy 
surroundings with a view to checking further sickness as well 
as on account of the bad weather here just at that time of year. 


With these lines of explanation we will now return to 
Bright's records. 

November 15. Started transferring cable from Bonaventure. 

November^. Finished transferring cable 

November 20 (Sunday). Nothing done. 

November 21. Sent Dacia to St. Thomas, accompanied by 

I started for San Domingo City, Puerto Rico, on board Vestal. 
Sr. Lopez with me, also Mr. James Gutteres. 1 

November 25, 10 a.m. Anchored off San Domingo. H.M.S. 
Y antic here. Went on board and then on shore with Captain 
Irwin. Called on the English Consul and the Secretaries for War 
and Finance, the President being away. Left in the Vestal 
at 5 p.m. 

November 28. Arrived at St. Thomas in the evening. 

November 29. Dacia arrived this afternoon with the Suffolk. 
Found that Robert Jackson had died on board the former on 
26th inst., and was buried at sea the following day. 

November 30. Erecting testing-house at landing-place, etc. 

December 5. Seine with Edward on board being long overdue, 
got the Danish authorities to despatch the Eider to search for her 

December 6. Eider returned without any news of Seine. 

i p.m., went on board Suffolk with staff,, weighed 
anchor and went round to landing-place in Gregorie Bay. 3.55, 
got end of cable ashore for the St. Thomas-Puerto Rico section, 
and returned to Dacia. Mr. France's connection with the ex- 
pedition came to an end to-day. 2 

1 Mr. Gutteres was manager in the West Indies of the West India 
and Panama Company. He was associated with Sir Charles in the 
early days of the " Electric " and " Magnetic " Companies, and was 
a close friend to the last with the rest of his family. 

1 This gentleman had been the chief of Bright's staff, but, having 
other work in view at home, he, at this juncture, sent in his resig- 
nation, and returned to England by the next mail. 


December 7. Splice made in morning between " S.E." and 
" intermediate." Bearings of splice 

David's Point, W.N.W. 
Saba Island, S.W.J W. 

R.M.S. Seine arrived in afternoon. 1 Went on board and took 
Edward to Dacia. 

Went out to the Suffolk and laid Puerto Rico section to abreast 
of Savana Island. At night, in getting end on board Dacia, with 
fresh wind and swell, the cable got jammed in the rocks at the 
bottom, and parted. 

December 8. Picked up cable in afternoon, and spliced on to 
cable on board Dacia. 

December 9, 1.30 a.m. Weather fine. Started paying out 
towards Puerto Rico/ 

2 p.m., buoyed cable (Cuba type) off San Juan de Puerto Rico. 

3 p.m., went into harbour of San Juan (the capital of Puerto 
Rico) with Vestal and Titian. 

December 10. Went ashore. Got large flat to put shore end in ; 
coiled i, 800 yards on board of her. 

December n, 6 a.m. Went out, but had to come in again, 
weather being too bad. 

11.25 a.m. Weather having improved, started for buoy again. 
0.30 p.m., mushroom in. Hauled in some slack and anchored. 

Splice made during afternoon. 

December 12. Completed shore end to St. John's Bay, and 
slipped final splice. 

Ball given to the expedition in evening by the municipality 
to celebrate the laying of this section. 

December 13. Titian alongside, but great difficulty in getting 
hands employed to transfer the cable. 2 

1 She had experienced a fearful gale for several days after passing 
the Azores, and only reached St. Thomas after the engineer had 
utilised the cinders and anything to spare that was at all burnable ! 

2 Owing to sickness and deaths, Bright was obliged to have 
recourse to native labour. 


Testing-house on shore finished. 

December 15. Finding the Spanish hands could not be got 
to coil the cable properly, determined to do it at St. Thomas. 

Left in Dacia at 5 p.m. 

December 16, 9 a.m. Arrived at St. Thomas ; went ashore 
to testing-house and along land line. 

And now comes another break in the cable-laying opera- 
tions, for whilst the Dacia is employed in taking in a fresh 
supply of cable from the Titian we find Sir Charles proceeding 
to some of the Leeward and Windward Islands in H.M.S. 
Vestal, on various official matters. 

To extract again from his diary : 

December 17. Left in Vestal at 5.30 p.m. for St. Kitts, Sr. Lopez 
with me. Mr. Gutteres also on board. 

December 19. Arrived at Basseterre, St. Kitts, at 0.30 a.m. 
Went ashore after breakfast and saw Mr. Wigley, the adminis- 
trator, to arrange where the cable could be landed. Drove to 
Frigate Bay estate. Walked to a 




N.B. No large timber to be got. 

Left at 5.30 for Antigua. 

December 20. Arrived off St. John's Harbour, Antigua, and 
inspected Goat Hill Bay. Four miles of land line. Left at 6p.m. 

Night very dark. Vestal anchoring in shallow water near 
Hurst's Shoal, lost anchor and chain. 

December 21. Sweeping all day for lost anchor and chain. 

December 22. Left for Dominica. 

December 23. Arrived at Dominica in the morning. Saw 
Major Freeling, the Lieutenant-Go vernor of Dominica, about 
landing the cable ; also Sir Benjamin Pine, the Governor of 
the Leeward Islands, now here. 

Left in the afternoon for St. Pierre. 

December 24. Arrived at St. Pierre in the morning. Held 
meeting with the Chamber of Commerce and some deputies of 
the Council-General. Sailed for Barbadoes at night. 

December 25 (Christmas Day). Abreast of St. Lucia in 

December 26. Arrived at Barbadoes and anchored in Carlisle 
Bay at 8 a.m. 


Called on Governor Rawson. 1 Drove to N. end of bay by 
Pelican Point ; then to S. end by Fort Charles. Afterwards 
called on General Munro. 

Left for Guadeloupe in the afternoon. 

December 29. Arrived at Basse Terre, Guadeloupe, at 5.30 

Went ashore to see the Governor and discuss the telegraph 
question. Left at 10 p.m. for English Harbour. 

December 30. Arrived at English Harbour at 10 a.m. Went 
ashore, saw Mr. Vizard, and sailed for St. Thomas in the after- 

December 31. Arrived at St. Thomas. Found Dacia still 
transferring cable from Titian. Mail in to-day. 2 

Sunday, January i, 1871. No work ; service on board Vestal ; 
called on Governor, Consul, etc. 

January 2. Shannon arrived from England with a new jointer 
on board. 

January 3. Having finished turning over cable during after- 
noon, set out (at 5.30) for Puerto Rico. 

January 4, 8.30 a.m. Arrived at San Juan de Puerto Rico. 
Vestal with us. 3 Mr. Latimer came on board. Went with Sr. 
Lopez to see the Governor. 

January 5. Transferring cable and getting ready for Puerto 
Rico- Jamaica section. 

January 8. Landed shore end near St. John's Gate, and 
buoyed end. 

1 Afterwards Sir Rawson W. Rawson, K.C.M.G., C.B. 

2 By this mail Sir Charles received a letter which formed a curious 
and striking instance of Post Office zeal. It was a letter forwarded 
by the G.P.O., London, and addressed : 

" To Sir Charles Bright, 

" England. 
(// not there, try elsewhere}." 

3 Sir Charles had returned to his quarters aboard the Dacia 
on last reaching St. Thomas. 


January 9. 6.30 a.m. Anchor up, and set on for buoyed 
end, cable on drum. 

i p.m., splice with shore end finished. Started paying out 
towards Holland Bay, Jamaica, a matter of nearly 700 miles. ' 

January 10, 0.40 a.m. Stopped ship owing to appearance of 
a fault, supposed to be in lead, but found to be in cable. 

Rode to cable till daylight. 7.30 a.m., after effecting repair, 
went ahead easy. 8.30, stopped ship's engines. Took sounding, 
32 fathoms, sand about ij mile from land. 

We will now leave the diary temporarily, and confine 
ourselves to a more general and less technical description. 
Sir Charles and his brother who had joined the expedition 
by request kept alternate watches in charge of the laying 
operations. The large cabin they occupied was imme- 
diately under the paying-out machine. When laying cable 
the rumbling noise of the apparatus acted as a lullaby 
to the one resting below ; while, from habit, any stoppage 
of the machine at once roused the sleeper. This may well 
be understood when the fracture of a cable in deep water 
with a rough bottom probably meant an expense of many 
thousands of pounds and several months in its recovery. 

H.M.S. Vestal went ahead as pilot, and the Dacia coasted 
along a few miles off Puerto Rico, under the lee of the island, 
with the sweet scent of orange and lemon. trees wafted off 
during the night. At daybreak on the morrow (January I2th) 
they bore over towards San Domingo (and Haiti), past 
Saona Island, and across the great bay leading to Alta 
Vela, a rock resembling a "high sail." The trade wind 
from the east here blew heavily, and the sea rose so much 
that it was with difficulty that the speed of the Dacia could 
be kept low enough for safe " paying out/' and yet at the 


same time avoid being pooped by the following waves. At 
night on the fourth day out, more than six hundred miles 
had been laid without any serious hitch ; but at daybreak 
when Jamaica was already in sight a fault showed 
itself, after having passed overboard. This it was, of 
course, necessary to recover. The depth was about, 1,200 
fathoms nearly a mile and a half. However, the fault 
was got on board once more, in safety, and cut out. 

But, after the splice had been made, in passing the cable 
from the bows to the stern again, the cable parted, through 
getting foul of the propeller, owing to a strong current. 
Had it not been for an unfortunate, but excusable, error 
on the part of the navigating lieutenant of the Vestal 
who mistook Cape Espada at the south-east end of San 
Domingo for the end of Saona Island, and thus piloted the 
Dacia many miles out of her true course the cable would 
have been laid to within a few miles of Holland Bay, her 
destination, when the fault occurred and the accident took 
place. As it was, it required months of grappling and a 
very heavy outlay to raise the cable again, the bottom of 
the sea about here (off Morant Point) being a nest of volcanic 
ridges interspersed with coral walls. These latter had a way 
of breaking grapnels, and, occasionally, the still more 
precious grappling rope. 

To return to Sir Charles' diary : 

January 15. The cable having parted, Buoy No. I was at 
once lowered, and we then proceeded to prepare for grappling, 
whilst the Vestal left for Kingston. 

5 p.m., grapnel down. 


January 16, 17, 18, and 19. Dacia grappling. 

January 20. The weather being bad, proceeded to Kingston 
harbour for provisions, as well as to effect lengthy repairs to ship 
and engines. 

February 4. Left Kingston for grappling ground. 

February 6, 8 a.m. On reaching supposed position of grappling 
ground the sea had got up too much to grapple ; besides being 
too hazy to find buoy. 

6 p.m., lowered grapnel. 

February 7, 7 a.m. Commenced heaving up. Found one 
prong of grapnel broken off and two straightened out. Too 
much sea for grappling. 

February 8. Strong breeze from N.E. Weather thick. No 
observation at noon. 

5 p.m., wind and sea moderating. Put down grapnel in 

February 10. Have so far been unable to gt a drift across 
the cable. 

February n, 9.30 a.m. Picked up grapnel. Found prongs 
covered with chalk and coral. 

3.40 p.m., lowered grapnel again. 

February 12. Blowing hard with rain. Too much sea for 

February 15. Grappling during day. 

i p.m., took line in. All the prongs of grapnel bent and 
scored by rocks. 

February 17. Lowered grapnel again. 

February 18. Too much sea for grappling, so left Dacia in 
Vestal for Kingston. 

February 24. After waiting for mails, returned in the Vestal 
to grappling ground. 

February 25. Stormy. Gale from E. Could not find Dacia 
or buoy. 

February 26 (Sunday). Met with Dacia. Too stormy to 
work. Went for shelter to Port Morant and put live stock and 
provisions on board. I rejoined Dacia. 


February 27 and 28. At Port Morant. Too rough to do any- 

March I. Out at daylight. Found buoy with staff broken 
short off. 

March 2, 3, 4, and 5. Too much sea for work. 

March 6. Grappling all night. At 10.40 a.m. strain rose to 
10,000 and remained so. Began picking up. 

i p.m., grapnel inboard ; four prongs completely straight- 
ened, but no cable ! 

Being short of coal, started for Port Royal, and remained out- 
side all night. 

March 8. Commenced coaling from barque Malta. 

March 9. Suffolk in from St. Thomas. Commenced coaling 

March n. Suffolk alongside to take over cable, grappling 
rope, etc., from Dacia for grappling. 

March 12 to 23. Coaling, transferring cable and repairs on 
board Dacia and Suffolk. 

March 28. First day on which weather has been at all fit for 
grappling after above changes. Dacia went out to grappling 
ground, but had to return to Port Morant for shelter. 

April i. Joined Dacia at Port Morant. 

April 2. Set out for grappling. 

April 3. Had to take shelter again in Port Morant. 

April 6. Still blowing hard from N.E. Heavy sea outside. 

The Suffolk being now available and ready for grappling 
work, Sir Charles, at this stage, determined to leave her with 
his brother, Mr. Rae, and half the cable staff, to continue 
the grappling for and to complete the lost Puerto Rico- 
Jamaica cable, whilst he went on with the laying of the 
remaining sections connecting up the long string of Lee- 
ward and Windward Islands. 

Being short of staff owing to sickness and the return 


home of Mr. France Sir Charles Bright engaged the services 
of Mr. Henry Benest, 1 captain of a trading steamer belong- 
ing to Messrs. Nunes Bros. 
The diary continues : 

April 7 (Good Friday). Started at daylight in the Dacia for 
San Juan de Puerto Rico. 

April 8. At sea off the coast of Haiti. Weather fine. Sea 

April 9 (Easter Day). Divine service on quarter deck. Fine. 

April 10. After a dead calm, it rained in torrents and blew 

April 12. Arrived at San Juan de Puerto Rico in morning. 

Tested Jamaica cable, and left at 6 p.m. for St. Thomas. 

April 13. Arrived at St. Thomas. 

April 14. Started transferring shore-end from No. 4 tank. 

April 17. Started transferring deep-sea cable from No. 3 
to No. 4 tank. 

April 19. Commenced putting new tubes in ship's boilers. 

April 22. Dacia's crew " signed off " at British Consul's 
and a new crew shipped, only the officers, boatswain, and 
carpenter of the old crew re-shipping. 2 

April 23 (Sunday). Liberty ashore. 3 

April 24 to 28. Transferring cable. 

April 29. Dacia's old crew left by German mail steamer for 

April 30 (Sunday). Boarded H.M.S. Myrmidon, and arranged 

1 Now a telegraph engineer of great experience, in constant charge 
of the Silvertown Company's Cable expeditions. 

2 The period was over for which they had " signed on," and few 
cared to risk a longer stay in the midst of such ill-luck, with death 
constantly hanging over them. This loss of old hands, of course, 
made things all the more difficult for Sir Charles. 

3 This liberty to the new hands was, by reason of their agree- 
ments, unavoidable. 


for her to accompany the Dacia as escort whilst laying the 
remaining sections. Came round Water Island in morning to 
splice on to shore-end. Anchored in Gregorie Bay. Making all 
ready for starting laying St. Kitts section. 

May i, 1871, 8.40 a.m. Anchor up and jib set. Started 
paying out. 

5.55 p.m. Light off scale. 7.40, cut cable aft and passed it 
to bows fault at sea. Picked up slowly all night, having to 
stop from time to time on strain becoming excessive, to get 
the cable clear. Cable came up with the outer covering torn 
off in some places and the wires abraded by rocks. 

May 2. Picking up slowly. Fault estimated at 22 miles 
off ; by Blavier's test, 18 miles. 

May 3, 9.55 a.m. Sudden jerk on cable while coming 
up easily. Eventually it came up quite slack, after the dynamo- 
meter jumped. Found it had parted at the bottom, the end 
being torn to pieces by rocks. Two hundred and eighty-four 
fathoms came in after the break. 

0.30 p.m., grapnel down on the bank, 28 fathoms. Grappling 
with 74 fathoms of lines, including 30 fathoms of chain. 

i p.m., bottom at 25 fathoms. 1.20., no bottom at 80. 
Hauled in grapnel. Three prongs broken. 

2.15 p.m., put down grapnel, 66 fathoms of rope and 30 
fathoms of chain. 5.50 p.m., picked up grapnel. Three 
prongs broken off, two broken in half. 

6.25 p.m., lowered grapnel again, but strain very irregular, 
and picked up at 7.30 with all the prongs gone. 

8.2Op.m., grapnel down again. 9.10, up; one prong broken. 

9.33 p.m., grapnel down. 10.25, hooked cable. 10.40, bight 
of cable (intermediate) out of water. Buoyed St. Thomas end. 

May 4, i a.m. Commenced picking up sea-end of cable. 

8.50 a.m., cable parted about a fathom inboard, coming in 
much chafed, and wires gone in places. 

May 6, 4.40 p.m. Started paying out again, and signalled 
Myrmidon " Steer E. by S. J S." u.iop.m., stopped for defect 
in cable. 


May 7, 5.40 p.m. Started paying out again towards St. 
Kitts. . . . 

May 8, 10 p.m. Nearing St. Kitts landing-place. Stopped 
engines. 10.30, let go anchor in harbour. 

May 9. Sent testing-house on shore. Went out with Captains 
Holder, R.N., and Dowell, to examine landing-place. 

May 10. House erected by Mr. Tarbutt and men. 

Laid shore-end round Bluff Head, and completed St. Thomas- 
St. Kitts (or St. Christopher) section. 

May IT. Started transferring cable. Went ashore to see 
the Administrator. 

May 1 8. Mr. Matthew Gray arrived from England, accom- 
panied by Admiral Dunlop ; the former came on board, the 
latter went on to the Windward Islands. 

May 24. Schooner Queen came alongside to take in shore- 
end for Antigua section. 

May 25, 5.40 a.m. Started from Basse Terre with the schooner 
to land the Antigua shore-end. 

3 p.m, shore-end landed. Sent Captain Dowell on board 
schooner to join the homeward mail, invalided ; also the boat- 

May 26, 3.25 a.m. Started laying cable towards Antigua. 

i.o p.m., stopped for slight fault. 

4.0, having cut out fault, resumed paying out. 

5.0, buoyed end of cable off Antigua landing-place. 

5.20, anchored in Goat Hill Bay. 

May 27. Put up testing-house. Landed shore-end and 
completed St. Kitts-Antigua section. 

May 29. Laid second shore-end (for Guadeloupe section) 
and buoyed it. 

8.30 p.m., started laying towards Guadeloupe, so as to 
approach there at daylight. 

May 30, 10 a.m. Buoyed end of cable off Guadeloupe. 

May 31. Went into the country to see the Governor. Test- 
ing-house erected. 

June 2, 6.30 a.m. Up anchor. Commenced coiling cable in 


boats. Strong tide to N.W. delayed landing shore-end till 7.15 

June 3. Tarbutt arrived from St. Kitts in schooner Queen. 

6.45 p.m., spliced on to shore-end, and started paying out 
towards buoyed end of cable already laid from Antigua. 

June 4, 11.13 a - m - Reached buoy. 5 p.m, slipped final 
splice Antigua-Guadeloupe section. 

6.30 p.m., anchored in St. John's Harbour for the night. 

June 5. Went to English Harbour to arrange about coaling 
there. Started transferring cable on board Dacia. Land line 
not finished yet. 

June 6 and 7. Transferring cable. 

June 8. Dacia taking in coal at English Harbour. Mean- 
while I stayed at St. John's with Colonel Menzies. 

June 9. Rejoined Dacia at English Harbour. 

June ii. Left English Harbour in Dacia at 5 p.m. 

June 12. Arrived at landing-place at daylight. 3.30 p.m., 
shore-end for next section (to Dominica) landed. 

June 13, 1.30 a.m. Started paying out towards Dominica, 
so as to near there in daylight. 2.11 a.m., Saint's Island (the 
westernmost island) abeam. 

5 a.m., Dominica in sight. 

Noon, stopped paying out and buoyed end of cable. 

1. 10, anchored in 15 fathoms. Went in afternoon to select 
exact landing-place and arrange with the Acting-Governor 
about land-line. 

June 14. Testing-house sent on shore. Mr. Benest in charge 
of working party. 

June 15. Testing-house erected, and trench for shore-end 

June 16. Anchor up first thing in the morning, and set on 
for landing-place. 

Noon, shore-end landed, and started laying forward buoyed 

4 p.m, final splice lowered, thus putting through Antigua- 
Dominian section. Back to anchorage off Government House. 


June 17. Transference and arranging of cable for next section 

June 1 8 (Sunday). Work continuing but very slowly, owing 
to the necessity of employing black labour. Tarbutt arrived in 
R.M.S. Mersey from Guadeloupe. Ball at the Governor's. 

June 20. Sent Currich to hospital. 4 p.m, landed shore-end 
for Dominica-Martinique section. 

(N.B. Message during day that part of Silvertown Works 
had been burnt down.) 

June 24, 3.48 a.m. Commenced paying out to Martinique. 

ii. 20 a.m., close to Martinique. Stopped paying out. 

In buoying end, the buoy got foul of the propeller (owing to 
strong current), and sank. 

Went into anchorage, placing cutter to mark position of sunken 

Went on shore to the hotel in afternoon. Admiral Dunlop 

June 25. Sent away steam launch and two boats to grapple 
for cable. Picked up, and buoyed end during day. 

June 26. Out in morning with Dacia. Landed shore-end ; 
and put through Dominica-Martinique section, during day. 

Arno arrived in evening. Admiral Dunlop and Mr. Gutteres 
go in her to Guadeloupe. 

June 28. Landed shore-end for cable to St. Lucia. 

Dejeuner given at the hotel by the town. M. Borde, 
President of the Council, presided. 

June- 29, 1.40 a.m. Picked up buoyed shore-end, and started 
laying towards St. Lucia. During night ship rolling and pitching 
a good deal whilst paying out cable. 

i p.m, off St. Lucia. Stopped paying out and buoyed cable. 
Went into harbour and anchored. 

June 30. Made all ready for landing shore-end in Cul de 
Sac Bay to-morrow. 

July i. Landed shore-end, and joined on to D.S. at buoy, 
thus completing Martinique-St. Lucia section. 

July 2. Coaling all day. 

A A 


July 3, 9.30 a.m. Cast off from wharf in morning, and set 
on to Cul de Sac Bay. 

4.30 a.m., landed shore end for St. Lucia-St. Vincent section. 

After buoying, returned to anchorage for English mail in the 
evening. Admiral Dunlop and Mr. Gutteres on board. Former 
goes on to Trinidad, latter to St. Vincent. 

ii p.m., hove up anchor and set on for St. Vincent. 1 

j u ly 4. Anchored off Kingstown, St. Vincent, in 21 fathoms 
of water. 

Went in launch to Greathead Bay, Cane Garden Bay, and 
Otley Hull Bay. Chose the latter. 

July 7. Landed shore-end ; also landed and buoyed the 
Barbadoes shore-end. 

July 8, 3.30 a.m. Started laying back to St. Lucia. 8. am., 
in leaving the lee of the land and entering channel ship pitched 
very much. 

4 p.m., entering Cul de Sac Bay. 6.30 p.m, slipped final 
splice with buoyed end and went into Castries Harbour. 

July 9 (Sunday).- Lunched with Governor Des Voeux, and 
left in the evening for Forte de France, Martinique, to dock 
the Dacia. 

July 10, 6.30 a.m. Arrived at Forte de France. Went 
into docks. 

3 p.m, went ashore with Mr. Gray and Sr. Lopez. Called 
on the Governor. 

July n. Dock hands emptying dock and shoring ship. 

Called on the Directeur d'Interieur. The Governor and 
party on board the Dacia in the evening looking at the cable 
and machinery. 

July 12. Dock hands still engaged on ship. Mr. Tarbutt 
arrived from St. Vincent. 

1 Before laying the cable between St. Lucia and St. Vincent it was 
necessary to proceed to the latter to select the landing-place and 
make other preliminary arrangements. 


Went to the country house of the Governor near Balata six 
hours driving there, two hours back. 

July 13. Dock hands and crew engaged in scraping and 
painting ship. 

To a dinner-party at the Governor's in the evening. 

July 14, 15 and 16. Scraping and painting ship. 

July 17. Commenced letting water in dock at 0.45 p.m. 
Dock full at 1.55. 

2 p.m., started warping out. 4.30 p.m., anchored in har- 

6.15 p.m., accounts settled. Cast off from buoys, and set 
on for Barbadoes. 

July 18, 4 p.m. Anchored off Bridgetown, Barbadoes. 

July 19. Called on Governor Rawson * and General Munro. 
Dined with the latter. The former pressed me to make a stay 
at Government House, but I fear that will be impossible. 

Started taking over cable from Benledi. 

July 30. Suffolk arrived with Edward on board, besides a 
fresh supply of grappling rope and grapnels. 

August i. Went with Edward and Gray to examine possible 
landing-places. Selected a site. 

E.B. and self dined with the Governor. 

4 p.m., got under way and set on for Demerara, to arrange 
for landing cable there. 

August^, 5 p.m. Arrived off Georgetown, Demerara. 

Went ashore to Beckwith's Hotel. Mr. Mason called. 

August 6. Went to inspect the proposed landing-place. 

August 7. Mail day. 

August 8. Saw Babington. 

August 9. Looked at various other points for landing the 

August 10. Suffolk in at 3 p.m. 

1 Then Governor-in-Chief of the Windward Isles, with head- 
quarters at Barbadoes, and afterwards Sir Rawson W. Rawson, 
K.C.M.G., C.B. 




> 3 C 


be S.) Nothing in sight. 

11.30, lightship bearing S.W., about 3 miles distant. 
Noon, waited for tide. (High water at 5.38 p.m.) 
3.50 p.m., resumed paying out up the river Demerara. 


Soundings, 17 ft., and ship drawing u ft. 6 in. aft, 9 ft. for- 

5.12, cable end buoyed, and a can buoy put on bight. 5.15, 
returned to Georgetown. 

N.B. Admiralty chart 533 of Demerara River not reliable ; 
several inaccuracies. 

August 18. As we could not get nearer than within 10 miles, 
arranged with the Governor for the use of the Governor Mundy 
schooner for landing the rest of the cable in the very shallow 
water. Had to get her cleared out and prepared for receiving 

August 20 (Sunday). Cable all coiled in hold of schooner. 

August 21. Started at daylight landing shore-end from 
schooner (Governor Mundy) , steamer Stirling assisting. Hard at 
it all day. Governor Scott with me during part of the work. 
100 convicts assisting on shore cutting trench and hauling. 
Great difficulty in getting so heavy a cable 1 through the mud, 
about the consistency of cream. Knocked off work at dusk. 

August 22, 9.20 a.m. Landed end on Sophia Estate, 3 miles 
from Georgetown. During afternoon made splice with cable 
previously laid. 

August 23. St. Vincent-Barbadoes cable laid from Dacia. 

August 24. Suffolk laying cable further out from the buoy, 
ready for the Dacia to continue the section between here and 
Trinidad, after turning over cable. 

August 25. Went to Berbice (New Amsterdam), with Mr. 
Gray and Mr. Cox, to inspect the route of the land-line towards 
Surinam, which connects on to Cayenne. 

6 p.m., arrived at Berbice. Went to Britton's Hotel. 

After inspecting the land-line and station, the Dacia 
being well employed for some days taking in fresh cable, 

1 No less than thirty-five miles of the heavy shore-end type had 
to be laid owing to the shallowness of the approach for a long 
distance, and the liability of ships anchoring over the route. 


Sir Charles whilst at Berbice appears to have accepted 
an invitation from the genial head of the Colonial Police 
(Colonel Fraser) to accompany him on the Government 
schooner during a round of inspection, extending to a trip 
up the River Corentyn, where it was necessary to take to 
canoes paddled by natives. 

Game was met with at first ; but on getting higher up 
the river the nearly naked aborigines in the interior drove 
all the deer, etc., away. Some of the provisions having 
been capsized out of a canoe, it became necessary to shoot 
and cook the large lizards (iguana), which proved anything 
but bad eating. They are desperately ugly, with greenish 
brown wrinkled skins, forbidding snouts, and serrated 
backs : they taste, however, very like rabbit or fowl. 

While on this expedition Sir Charles killed a tremendous 
boa constrictor (or anaconda) by a shot through the head. 
It was hauled up to the branch of a tree by a noosed rope, 
and was still wriggling the following day. None of the 
natives would go near it, but a negro servant was slung 
up and took the skin off, measuring 23 feet. 

To return again to the diary : 

August 26. Started in revenue schooner Petrel, at 3 p.m., 
accompanied by Messrs. Cox, Gray, and Godfrey. Anchored 
at Bannaboo, near the mouth of the Corentyn River, at night. 

August 27. Left at ii a.m. with the rising tide. 

August 28, 7 a.m. Arrived at Orealla. Landed and went 
out on the Savannah shooting. Returned at 9 ; too hot. Went 
out again at 5 p.m. for an hour. 

August 29. Out at 5.30 a.m. Left in boats for Siparota at 2.50 
p.m. ; arrived there at 6.15. Swung our hammocks in the 
Indian lodges. 


August 30. Off in morning through the woods. Breakfasted 
in an Indian lodge six miles off. Got back to camp at night. 

August 31. Started at 10 a.m. in boats for the schooner. 
Beat two islands for deer on the way. 

September i. Anchored off Phillips' (collector's) Station. Left 
at 9 a.m., and anchored for night at Three Sisters Island. 

September 2. Arrived off the police station at entrance to 
Corentyn River early in the morning. Had to wait for the tide 
till night for crossing the bar. 

September 3 (Sunday). Arrived off Georgetown in morning. 
Left with Mr. Gray in the French steamer Guyane for Trinidad 
(Port of Spain) in afternoon. 

September 4. Arrived at Port of Spain at np.m., and went 
to Madame Pantin's Hotel. 

September 5. Dacia arrived in the morning. Edward, Cap- 
tain Hunter, and Sr. Lopez came to the hotel. 

September 6. Called on Governor Longley. On board at 
noon. Busy there rest of day. 

September 7. Transferring cable. 

(Mr. Gutteres informs me that the St. Thomas-St. Kitts 
cable has been damaged in the harbour of the latter place, during 
the recent hurricane, by ships dragging their anchors.) 

September 8. Mails made up for England. Sent home Benest, 
Baxter, and Lopez all more or less invalided. 

Left for Moruga (the proposed landing-place for the southern 
cable) at night. 

September 9. Passed through Serpent's Mouth in morning. 
Off Moruga at 2 p.m. Went ashore and examined landing-place 

Started back for Demerara at 5 p.m. 

September 10 (Sunday). Weather fine. Off Venezuelan coast. 
Divine service on quarter-deck. 

September n. Arrived off the Demerara light-ship, and 
anchored near her at 10 p.m. 

At this stage Blight's diary may be left, as the laying 


of the subsequent cables did not follow in ready sequence. 
It suffices, however, to say that within a month the remain- 
ing sections were laid. These connected up the islands of 
Trinidad, Grenada, and Barbadoes with the rest of the 
telegraphic system. 

At Trinidad, the Demerara cable was landed at the 
south-east corner of the island ; while the continuing section 
northwards to Grenada was taken from Maccaripe Bay. The 
connection to Port of Spain (the capital) on the west side, 
was made by means of a long land-line. A great part of 
this was erected through a dense forest of more than fifty 
miles, which had to be cleared away by a small army of wood- 
cutters, for a width of at least forty feet, for a considerable 

On the completion of the various sections connecting up 
the Windward Islands and British Guiana, we find Sir 
Charles leaving for St. Thomas, which was reached on 
October I2th. 

After at last bringing to a successful issue this chain of 
cables, Bright became so weak from recurrent attacks of 
malarious fever that his medical adviser peremptorily 
ordered him to England for some months at least. Thus, 
he very reluctantly took the mail from St. Thomas 1 a week 

1 He was, in fact, in so exhausted a conditon that he had to be 
carried on board the steamer. 

The doctor had expressed himself strongly that he would not 
answer for his life if he stayed ; indeed, his health and constitution 
were seriously undermined, and he suffered the ill effects for the 
remainder of his Ijfe, 


after his arrival there, leaving his brother, with Captain 
Edward Hunter, R.N., 1 and Mr. Leslie Hill, to go on grap- 
pling for the lost cable between Jamaica and Puerto Rico, 
as well as that between Jamaica and Colon. 

These West Indian cables have always given a deal of 
trouble, owing not only to the unfavourable character of 
the bottom, but also to frequent attacks at the hands 
or, rather, at the snouts of saw and sword-fishes, not to 
mention the teredo, previously referred to. 


Adventures and Reminiscences 

The expedition was naturally greeted on the successful 
completion of each section with the greatest enthusiasm. 
Island after island was en fete, and a more hospitable race 
than the West Indian cannot be found. 

It would be impossible to enumerate all the attentions 
shown to Sir Charles and the members of the Telegraph 
Squadron. The civil and military chiefs vied with one 
another in making pleasant the frequent intervals of per- 
haps weeks on shore that had to be spent while shifting 
cable from the depot vessels to the laying steamers, fitting 
up the stations, and connecting with them the cables and 
necessary land-lines. 

Jamaica, as the principal centre of the cables (from 
north, east, and south), was for a considerable part of 

1 H.M.S. Vestal had been paid off, and thus the gallant Captain 
was available, 


the enterprise the main rendezvous for transhipping, coal 
ing, and provisioning ; so more was seen and experienced 
of that island and its inhabitants than of others. In the 
official circles frequent entertainments were given by the 
Governor, Sir John Peter Grant, aided by his able aide-de- 
camp, Major (afterwards Sir Owen) Lanyon, the son of 
Sir Peter Lanyon, an old Belfast friend of Sir Charles', as 
well as by the chief of the forces, Col. Sir Henry Johnston, 
Bart., and Sir John Lucie Smith, the Chief Justice of the 
island. Among the many leaders in the island who made 
time pass pleasantly for the members of the cable squadron 
were General Munro, the Commander-in-Chief, with Colonel 
Harman (afterwards Sir George Harman, K.C.B.) the 
Adjutant-General, and Col. Chesney, R.E. (later General 
Sir George Chesney, K.C.B., M.P.), Major W. W. Lynch, of 
the Queen's Royals, and Captain Gordon, R.A. 

The Griefs of Grappling 

It now remained for Sir Charles' brother Edward, as- 
sisted by Capt. Hunter and Mr. Leslie Hill, to recover and 
" put through " the two lost cables between Jamaica 
and Puerto Rico on the one hand and Jamaica and Colon 
on the other. 

The following extracts from letters from Mr. Edward 
Bright by way of report to his brother indicate the diffi- 
culties to be contended with : 



$th November, 1871. 

. . . We started this afternoon, but have been absolutely 
stuck here by one of the engineers (4th) and an assistant hot 
joining, added to the loss of poor Stephenson (2nd) . . . The 
3rd engineer is drunk. Mr. Stoddart cannot, of course, take 
charge of the engines with one assistant ; so we are in a fix, and 
shall probably lose a clear day by Wheeler being on shore. I 
have therefore wired you to send us at once a 2nd and 4th 

Hilliard had previously written Glover's (by this mail) about 
a 2nd officer coming out. Arrange with Norwood's and Glover's. 
We must not let ourselves be stuck ; that would be as bad as 
the old jointer business. Tarbutt is better to-day. . . . 


24th November, 1871. 

. . . Since I last wrote I have no success to report, as we have 
had bad weather nearly every day, with too heavy a sea to 

On the 6th, we grappled from 2 m. N. to 10 m. S. of the buoy, 
with a S.W. drift. Three prongs of grapnel injured. 

7th and 8th. Grappled from 18*5 lat. N., 75-37 long. W. 
Took two grapnels up at night, 3.30 a.m. Two prongs bent 

on after grapnel; sounded 960 fathoms, yellow mud | ? \. 

8th. Continued grappling from {~Lo| to {75-44} with one 
large grapnel. Prongs slightly bent. 

9th. From S. to N, {* 7 ^}> strain on at {75-37} Pick up> 
loth. Sounded 1,340 fms. shell sand | l8 6 |, grapple from 
l8 ' 9 }. Stuck at { l8 i 2 1. Picked up. Chalk on chain and 

/ u 3 i / T~0 



nth. Grappled from j 1 '\. Went a long way to west- 

/O OD 

ward and picked up. 

12 th. Too rough to grapple or sound. 

I3th. Went into Port Morant. 

I4th. Wind moderated. Put out in afternoon. 

i5th. At buoy 6.30 a.m. Go 5 m. E. and 4 m. N. Broke 
sounding line ; apparently very shallow, about 350 faths. Tried 
to grapple, but could not get ship S., owing to a westerly set 

of two knots. Grappled S. to N. from ] ~ I to 1 

i6th. Grapnel down j 1 * |; obliged to take it up. Heavy 

sea, and half a gale. This state of affairs increasing, we went 
into Port Morant. 

i8th and igth. Wind still on. 

20th. Steamed to Narvasso. Wind still strong. Heavy swell. 
Got lost buoy from there (previously got one from Caymaros 
by schooner), so now three large buoys ready. 

2ist. Went to Kingston. Strong wind and heavy sea. 

We leave to-day after coaling. I have wired for more of 
Massey's deep-sea registers. Only one left, which had to be 

We have had to invalid Tarbutt. Chronic dysentery and liver 
complaint. He's very thin and ill. Do what you can to get 
him fresh work. . . . 


Once, when Captain Hunter and Mr. Bright were stand- 
ing on the " bow baulks " of the Dacia, grappling for the 
Puerto Rico cable in deep water, the grapnel suddenly 
hitched on a rock ; and before the ship could be checked 
a strain of over twenty tons came on the rope, which 


broke inboard close to the dynamometer with a shower of 
sparks. The end whirled overboard bet ween them as they 
stood scarce a foot apart, but luckily without striking 
either one or the other. 

As a further illustration of what had to be contended 
with, about forty grapnels were broken or bent in the 
recovery of this and the Colon cable, besides the loss of 
several grappling ropes. 

As soon as Sir Charles' health had sufficiently recovered, 
he returned to this scene of trouble. 

At the moment when the mishap first occurred to the 
Puerto Rico- Jamaica cable, Sir Charles and his brother 
made careful sketches of the outline and appearance of 
the Jamaica mountains in the distance, so as to give a 
clue to the bearings of the spot. This could not, however, 
be very accurately discriminated, though some angles 
were also taken. Had it been the era of the " kodak " 
the relations of the mountains and their slopes would have 
been so accurately defined as to have materially assisted 
the subsequent search. 

The broken Colon- Jamaica cable had now to be taken 
in hand. It was, unfortunately, in very deep water. 
Moreover, considerable uncertainty existed as to its posi- 
tion ; for it will be remembered that thick weather had 
prevented observations for some time prior to the mishap, 
while trying to recover a fault in deep water about 320 
miles from Colon. Much rough weather was again experi- 


enced, the Dacia being frequently driven for refuge to the 
lee of Serrano and Roncador Cays, or to Old Providence 
Island, for days and even weeks together. 

While engaged grappling for the Colon cable, the Dacia 
was caught in a violent cyclone, which came on suddenly and 
whipped her clean round in an incredibly short time tear- 
ing the stay-sails to ribbons, clearing away the aft awning 
(which there was not time to furl), and taking the port 
quarter boat right out of the davits, which were bent 
into most curious shapes. However except for pitching 
about those on board in a disagreeable sort of way no 
actual harm was done. 

In grappling it was the custom to attach a light chain 
with a long swab to the ring at the back of the grapnel. 
Thus, what was broken off the ground or rooted up by the 
prongs in front was enveloped by the swab as it rolled 
over and over, and a good idea of the nature of the bottom 
was thereby obtained. After the weariness of eight or 
ten hours' drifting without touching the cable, there was 
always something to look forward to when the hour or so 
of winding up had brought the grapnel on deck. First of 
all the state of the prongs was a matter of interest. Then 
there was its companion, the six-foot swab, enveloping in- 
fusoria, coral, and shells in its long tangles collecting, like 
some octopus, whatever the prongs had detached. 

A number of unique specimens were secured in this 
way, including many varieties of the lovely network-like 
lace of 'Venus' bouquet-holder," or "flower basket" 
(euplectella), with numerous net coral cups, besides black 
coral and other varieties. The ooze consisted, as usual, 


of the microscopic skeletons of infusoria, globigerince, 
diatomacce, etc. 

Apart from the vast difference in the climates, fishing 
for a cable in the soft ooze forming the so-called " tele- 
graph plateau " at the bottom of the North Atlantic was 
child's play to the work entailed in recovering this line 
between the west end of Haiti and Holland Bay, Jamaica, 
where the bottom is mostly volcanic, and certainly one of 
the roughest in the world. The soundings, that had been 
made some five or ten miles apart, gave very little idea of 
the real state of things ; for between one sounding and the 
next, perhaps half a dozen unknown declivities would be 
found to exist and there was certainly no "telegraph 
plateau " in these parts. 1 

Homeward Bound 

On leaving Jamaica, the International proceeded to San- 
tiago de Cuba. Here Sir Charles and his brother were 
cordially received by Consul and Mrs. Ramsden ; and they 
then proceeded, via Batabano, to Havana. Before leaving, 
Sir Charles gave a picnic, some of the leading officials 
being invited. The scene selected for the picnic was 
a lovely plateau on a hill near Havana, shaded by the 

1 Bearing in mind that the Thomson steel-wire sounding 
apparatus had not then been introduced, the number of sound- 
ings taken compare favourably with what had been done elsewhere 
at this period. 


luxuriant foliage of the island, and commanding a beautiful 

Whilst in this neighbourhood, Charles Bright visited 
the tobacco plantations of Don Jose di Cabarga, a well- 
known manufacturer of the best Havana cigars, who had 
a special brand named " Sir Charles Bright regalias." x 
Perhaps the most curious sight here was a large enclosure 
with about a dozen detached cottages, given up to those 
slave-wives anticipating family increase. They were given 
no work to do, were looked after by a competent medical 
man, and had excellent food provided for them. Sir 
Charles and his brother had, of course, to allow themselves 
to be nominated as godfathers, and their names were given 
to a few of the already existing babies. 

After a few days, the brothers took steamer to New 
Orleans. Thence they journeyed up the Mississippi in one 
of the " Palace Steamers." The lower part of the great river 
was quite uninteresting, mostly bordered by mud banks, 
into which the steamer every now and again had to poke its 
nose to receive bales of cotton and passengers and to dis- 
charge goods. The journey was not very pleasantly passed. 
The national games of "euchre" and "poker" were being 
played all about the saloon, and all night long ; and as 
the players did not attempt to moderate their somewhat 
coarse voices, a lively time resulted for those in the state 

At various points, very light railways with small trucks, 

1 After Sir Charles' return from the West Indies, " Don Jose " 
made a habit of sending him every year a case of these. 


came down from the plantation villages generally located 
on rising ground at a distance, so as to escape floods. It was 
notified that all passengers were expected to provide 
themselves with clench nails, in order to help to re-fasten 
the rails if any got loose on the trip ! These light rail- 
ways were nicknamed " huckleberry " lines, because, as 
hurry was unknown, the trains would pull up in the ripe 
season to let the negro women get out and pick the huckle- 
berries here and there. 

Every one knows what " skimming dishes " the creek 
steamers are, often drawing only a few inches of water ; 
but the skipper, being " on the burst " with Mississippi 
yarns, asserted that in one very shallow " bayou " there 
was a " stern- wheeler " so light that a heavy dew on the 
grass was enough for it to pass over ! 

Our travellers were glad to go on by rail from Vicksburg 
in a Pullman car, though on one of the worst-made lines 
they had ever met with a sort of corduroy road through 
forests and round spurs of mountains. They had happily 
secured a special compartment at the very tail of the train, 
which afforded fine views. The train oscillated so much 
that the voyagers were soon literally rocked to sleep ! 

The smallest incident was a relief from the monotony 
of the Mississippi. At one point they were roused by a 
plaintive but subdued howl of " Hi ! Boss ! Boss ! ! " accom- 
panied by a faint odour, not unlike singed india-rubber. 
On going out to the rear division where the stove was, the 
cry was found coming from the large "grille" that sur- 
rounded it. On opening the lattice door a little nigger 
boy tumbled out half-grilled and fainting ; but a douche 

B B 


of water revived him. He turned out to be a " stow- 
away " who had crept in there with the double object 
of warmth and concealment ; but as the train went on, 
the draught increased the heat, till at last he was forced 
to cry out, being half-roasted alive. It was arranged 
with the conductor to take the lad to his destination and 
without cooking him any more. 

On arriving at New York in February, 1873, suitable 
thick garments required to be bought " ready-made." Each 
pair of trousers had a deep pocket behind, the explana- 
tion of its use in these parts being that it was customary 
for every man to carry a bowie knife. 

The trip was prolonged into Canada, and the Niagara 
Falls were seen in their extraordinary winter mantle of 
ice and snow. The Falls were passed under with icy 
" stalactites " of eighty to one hundred feet hanging over 
the ledge. It was a great change from the 85 of the West 
Indies, the temperature being down to 30 below zero, or 
62 of frost. 

After returning to New York, Sir Charles and his brother 
had an uncommonly rough passage home in the White 
Star mail steamer Atlantic. This happened to be her final 
voyage before being wrecked. 

And here ends the story of the West Indian cable expedi- 
tions the last expedition which Sir Charles accompanied 
or took an active part in. 


QHORTLY after Sir Charles Bright's final return from 
^^ the West Indies in 1873, the family took up quarters 
in a new town house at South Kensington No. 20, Bolton 

About this time Sir Charles embarked on a book on 
electrical and telegraphic matters. It was, however, 
set on one side shortly after. Up to his last days, he 
expressed an intention of completing this work ; but, 
like many other busy men, he never found an opportunity 
of realising his hopes, or, indeed, of doing much literary 
work of any sort. The fact is, though writing extremely 
concise and clear reports and addresses, his characteristic 
ability lay more in the direction of carrying out practical 
work. He was not one of those engineers who have con- 
tributed largely to the literature of their subjects, being 
indeed, a man of actions rather than of words. 

He had, however, a more complete collection of electrical 
literature than was contained in any individual library. 
Sir Charles' library contained many works not included in 
the famous collection of the late Sir Francis Ronalds, 
afterwards presented to the Institution ' of Electrical 
Engineers. Moreover, he had kept up, from the very 



beginning, a collection of press-cuttings referring to tele- 
graphy, or electrical matters generally. This collection 
has since been continued by the author, the twelfth bulky 
volume having now been reached. Probably no similar 
collection can be seen elsewhere. 

Bright had only been home a short time when he became 
interested with Count d'Oksza a prominent Spanish gentle- 
man * to whom we have already referred in a project 
for telegraphically uniting Spain with her Canary Island 
possessions and with extensions down the West African 
Coast. 2 This eventually culminated in the formation of 
the Spanish National Telegraph Company promoted by 
the Silvertown Company with subsidies from the Spanish 
and French Governments, whose system extends as far as 
the latter's colony of St. Louis, in Senegal. The extension 
to the Cape was afterwards carried out, with the help of 
subsidies from the French, Portuguese and British Govern- 
ments, on the condition that the cable landed at some 
of their respective colonies en route. These sections were 
partly laid by the Silvertown Company, and partly by 
the Telegraph Construction Company. 

1 Of Polish extraction, his full name was Count Thaddeus Orze- 
chowski ! 

2 Whilst in Spain, connected with the above negotiations, Sir 
Charles visited Lisbon partly to see the Portuguese authorities 
concerning the proposed cable to Cape Verde Isles, and partly with 
regard to tramways. Thus, in The Times of May 23, 1873, we find 
a news telegram as follows : 

"Lisbon, May 22. Sir Charles Bright gave a banquet last night 
in honour of the British Minister, at which many persons of note 
were present." 


Land Telegraphs 

Transfer to the State 

A S we have seen, the Telegraph Act for the settlement 
** of terms with the Companies was passed in 1868. 
In the following year, the Telegraph Purchase and Regula- 
tions Act (for the administration of Government service) 
became law. 

Up to this time our Government was the only one, be- 
sides that of the United States, which had not undertaken 
the erection and control of the country's system of tele- 
graphs. When the transfer took place it was after thirty- 
three years' working by private enterprise. During 
this long period those engaged in the undertaking had 
provided the capital and incurred all the risk, besides 
developing the telegraph system into a highly lucrative 
business. Thus, it was but natural that the Companies 
should show no desire to part with the systems they had 

The above-mentioned Government Bill was brought 
forward somewhat suddenly, and without giving the Com- 



panics any particulars beforehand. The indecent haste 
with which this matter was pressed may be gathered from 
the following extract from a pamphlet entitled Government 
the Telegraphs (Effingham Wilson, 1868) : 

On Wednesday, the ist April, 1868, the new Chancellor of the Ex- 
chequer, Mr. Ward Hunt, appeared at the table of the House of 
Commons to move for leave to introduce one of those anomalous 
measures known in Parliamentary phraseology as " hybrid " 
bills (i.e. public bills affecting private rights), to enable Her 
Majesty's Postmaster-General to acquire, work, and maintain 
Electric Telegraphs. . . . Mr. Ward Hunt rose to ask leave to 
introduce this Bill at twenty-five minutes before six o'clock. 
The House of Commons adjourns its Wednesday discussions at 
a quarter before six o'clock. The Chancellor of the Exchequer 
had, therefore, only ten minutes to develop " the objects " of 
the Bill. Having fully exhausted those ten minutes, the Speaker 
intimated that the hour for terminating the discussion had 

Mr. Milner Gibson and Sir Charles Bright rose to address the 
House ; but they were too late even to ask a question or obtain 
an answer much less to raise any discussion on the principle 
of the measure. 

The Bill, as at first framed, was very arbitrary, and 
practically looked like confiscation ; but in view of the 
strong opposition of the Companies, the Post Office authori- 
ties l came to better terms. 

A Parliamentary Committee was eventually appointed 
to deal with the matter consisting of the Chancellor of 
the Exchequer, Mr. Goschen, and others ; and this Com- 
mittee then proceeded to thoroughly thrash out the con- 

1 The late Lord John Manners was at that time Postmaster- 
General, Sir Arthur Blackwood being the first Secretary. 


ditions of the bill. Sir Charles was at the time in the 
West Indies, but the Committee secured expert evidence 
from his brother (on behalf of the " Magnetic " Company), 
as well as from the following witnesses : Mr. F. I. 
Scudamore, one of the Secretaries of the Post Office ; Mr. 
Henry Weaver, Secretary to the Electric and International 
Telegraph Company ; Mr. R. S. Culley, Engineer to the 
" Electric " Company ; and Mr. Latimer Clark. Another 
important witness was Mr. H. Foster, C.B., of the Treasury 

On the Post Office authorities actually taking over 
the lines in 1870, they at once established a universal 
rate for telegrams throughout the United Kingdom. 
One of the benefits of the change was the rapid extension 
of the system to small towns, and even outlying villages, 
which until then had no telegraph. This policy was, of 
course, forced upon the Government. They could not, 
like the Companies, consider whether a station at any 
given place would " pay " or not. Partly as a result of 
this, the State, unlike the Companies, works the telegraphs 
at a loss in this country although the amount of this loss 
is a diminishing quantity each year. 


Railway and Government Arbitration 

On returning from their arduous and exhausting work 
in the West Indian tropics, Sir Charles and his brother 
were in immediate request by the Railway Companies, 
who were engaged in important arbitrations with the 
Post Office authorities as to the value of their interest 
in the Telegraphs, on account of the purchase and transfer 
to Government of the Telegraph Companies' system just 
referred to. 

The Railways were concerned in a variety of ways. In 
some instances the Telegraph Companies paid considerable 
sums to certain Railways for mere way-leave. For ex- 
ample, the South-Eastern used to receive nearly 2,000 a 
year under this head from the Magnetic Company alone, 
besides dividing the message receipts when collected at, 
or delivered from, the railway stations. In other cases 
the Railways had their telegraphing and signalling per- 
formed by the Telegraph Companies ; and, again, in 
others, the Railway Company had the use of the telegraph 
as a set-off against the way-leave. The railways, of course, 
offered a better protected route for the wires than the 
highways, and were free from the chance of injury by 
falling trees in storms. The value of this beneficial in- 
terest may be gathered from the fact that while the Tele- 
graph Companies obtained 5,847,347 for the whole of 
their lines, stations, and plant, the Railways received 
for their interest in the message business and way-leaves 


Mr. R. Price-Williams, C.E., the eminent railway cal- 
culator, had very ably worked out the figures for the Rail- 
ways ; and conjointly with Mr. Latimer Clark, as the 
former Engineer of the " Electric " Company Sir Charles 
and Edward Bright put together the sort of evidence that 
was needed. For some years the brothers were more or 
less engaged in attending as witnesses in the many necessarily 
lengthy arbitration cases. In the above arbitrations the 
Right Hon. J. Stuart-Wortley, M.P., was umpire, with 
Mr. F. J. Bramwell, C.E., 1 and Mr. Henry Weaver as 
arbitrators. These railway assessment cases were admir- 
ably conducted by Mr. Samuel Pope, Q.C., the famous 
railway advocate, while Mr. R. E. Webster 2 led on the 
other side. 

During the various arbitrations, patent cases, and law- 
suits generally, in which Sir Charles was engaged from 
time to time, he used even when vitally concerned to 
vary the proceedings by taking sketches in court, which 
afforded some amusement. 

1 Afterwards Sir Frederick Bramwell, Bart., D.C.L., F.R.S. 

2 Now Lord Alverstone, G.C.M.G., Lord Chief Justice of England- 



A T several periods of his life Sir Charles had shown a 
-^^ predilection for mining. It attracted him from 
the scientific, as well as the adventurous point of view- 
combining as it did chemistry, geology, and mechanics. 

Thus, in 1861, he and his brother had taken up the ex- 
ploitation of a mine in the Valgodemard Dauphine of the 
south of France. This contained veins of grey copper, 
i.e. copper ore carrying silver. The mine was worked by 
the Brights from 1862 to 1865, but eventually the mineral 
proved too refractory for profitable working. It had been 
originally brought to the notice of Sir Charles by Mr. E. B. 
Webb, C.E. This was Bright's first professional connec- 
tion with Mr. Webb, but for many years up to the time 
of the latter's death a firm friendship existed between 

The valley in which the Valgodemard mine was situated 
was exceedingly beautiful. During the working of the 
mine a claim of 40 francs was made for a very young 
walnut tree a mere sapling which had to be removed 
in making a watercourse. On it being pointed out that 
the sapling was not worth even a franc, the owner replied : 



' That may be so now, but it would have grown into a 
fine tree ! " This novel form of argument did not, how- 
ever, prevail with the small local tribunal at Roux, which 
awarded the greedy old man much to his chagrin- 
just the franc deposited by the Valgodemard Company. 

Sir Charles' next mining interest was that of the New 
Mansfield Company. This was formed about 1864 to 
work some extensive alluvial deposits of low-grade copper 
ore, near Klausthal, in the Hartz Mountains. Mr. Webb 
was again a partner in this venture with the Brights. 
When Sir Charles first visited the New Mansfield mine 
he was very warmly received by Professor Bruno Kerl 
(of the great German College near by) and other important 
persons, who pressed him so much with " chopins " of 
strong beer that he began to think they had designs upon 
his head ! l On a couple of the professors paying a return 
visit, they indulged freely in some port at the works, and 
became so much affected that when they wanted to go 
back to Klausthal at night Sir Charles thought it better 
to have them driven twice round the mining district, and 
then to bed at New Mansfield. Here, to their great aston- 
ishment, they awoke next morning. 

Then came the Croscombe lead mines, in Somersetshire. 
These proved a heavy loss to Sir Charles. He was chair- 
man of the company an unlimited one formed about 

1 Bright had been warned by his mining associates that the good 
folks of Klausthal had a reputation for plying their English visitors 
with more than enough of their somewhat " heady " beer ! 


1865. The failure occurred during 1867, whilst he was 
busily engaged with House of Commons committees. Sir 
Hussey Vivian, M.P., 1 was also on the board of directors, 
but the brunt of the loss fell on Sir Charles. 

Soon, however, Bright was destined to have a still closer 
and more definite connection with mines and mining. 

About the year 1868 he foresaw that, as the engineering 
and electrical science with telegraphy was becoming better 
understood with each new undertaking, professional services 
would gradually become less valuable and less sought 
after. Then, too, the manufacturing firms since becoming 
limited liability companies had acquired a staff which 
rendered them capable of contracting for the submersion, 
as well as for the construction, of cables. This being so, 
Bright determined that he must cast his net wider in the 
profession of civil engineering. Thus, a little later, he em- 
barked on more general and independent consulting practice, 
to which larger profits were attached. In this, his brother, 
Edward, was associated with him. 

1 Sir Hussey Vivian (subsequently first Lord Swansea) was an 
old friend of Sir Charles' ; and when his big chemical and smelting 
works at Swansea and Birmingham were being converted into a 
company in 1883, Bright took up a considerable interest therein. 


The Servian Mines 

In the middle of 1873 the advantages of the mining 
domain of Kucaina, in Servia, were brought before Sir 
Charles and his brother by Mr. J. E. Tenison Woods, who 
had formerly on behalf of the Daily News been with 
Bright on H.M.S. Agamemnon during the laying of the first 
Atlantic cable, and was subsequently one of his assistants 
in carrying out the first telegraph to India, via the Persian 
Gulf. He had been recently engaged near Kucaina, at 
Tischivitscha on the Danube a place that can only be 
pronounced by a sound resembling that of sneezing. 

Kucaina was interesting, not only from the richness of 
the lead ore which held a considerable amount both of 
gold and silver but in its ancient history. It had 
been largely worked by the Romans, who had left the 
remains of a castle partly built with large stones of calamine 
ore, containing some silver, which was taken out and 
smelted. The Romans had, seemingly, also had hot-air 
baths, or calidaria, here. These were excavated by the 
Brights, when some grassy mounds were being dug 
into for foundations for mining buildings. They were 
found with the wood ashes and soot in the flues under 
the stone benches, just as fresh as when this mining settle- 
ment was broken up after Trajan's time. In another 
neighbouring spot were the remains of a mediaeval Vene- 
tian church with the peculiar apse. Underneath this an 
ancient smelting floor was found, with a quantity of silver 
in the interstices. The formation was friable porphyry, 


in conjunction with indurated limestone, in which the 
ore was found. There were many thousands of ancient 
shafts distributed over miles of surface ; but the Romans, 
Venetians, and, later on, the Austrians, had been beaten 
by the water at a comparatively small depth below the 
valley level although there were many remnants of ancient 
buckets and other contrivances, with the usual earthen- 
ware mining lamps, etc. From the archives at Belgrade 
it is clear that the Venetians in the i6th century had paid 
the ancient kings of Servia no less a tribute than 500,000 
ducats a year (a ducat being equivalent to gs. 6d. of our 
money now, but worth many times more then) for the 
privilege of exploiting this and several other mineral 
districts. The vast heaps of slag from their smelting 
furnaces all over the Kucaina and other mining regions 
show that the ancients went vigorously to work. 

After careful examination of the district and tests of 
the ore by Messrs. Johnson and Matthey, Sir Charles and 
his brother decided to take up these mines. A little later 
they sent out pumps, steam-engines and compressed air 
borers, together with several experienced Cornish miners. 

Various arrangements had to be made with the Servian 
Government relating to the mining rights, royalties, 
and other privileges, which were conducted with the Finance 
Minister, M. Chedomille Mijatovich, who showed every 
consideration and kindness to Sir Charles and Edward 
Bright. The brothers subsequently made a holiday stay 
with M. Mijatovich. 

In their frequent business at Belgrade they also visited 


Prince Milan (subsequently the King) at his Konak, or 
palace. On the occasion of Sir Charles' first trip to Servia 
he was accompanied by his eldest son, John Brails ford, 
shortly after the latter had left Winchester. 1 

Messrs. Bright arranged with Mr. Felix Hoffmann (the 
former owner) who knew the district thoroughly, to carry 
on the work for a time under their supervision. He was 
an able mining engineer, though not much acquainted 
with modern English or American machinery. The influx 
of water that had baffled him in a shaft sunk some forty 
fathoms by a small Austrian syndicate was at once dealt 
with by the new pumps. 

The ore thus produced was very rich, yielding with 
50 to 80 per cent, of lead from one to four ounces of gold, 
and 20 to 100 ounces of silver to the ton of rough stuff. 
This was dried in a reverberatory furnace sufficiently 
to drive off the moisture and a small part of the sulphur, 
and then shipped across the Danube from Gradishtie 
to Bazias in Hungary. Then the railway took it to the 
Royal Saxon Smelting Works at Freiberg, near Dresden, 
where it " fetched " from 20 to 30 per ton. A con- 
signment was sent to Vivian's at Swansea, but the returns 
were not as good as those of Freiberg, where they ap- 
peared to understand better the treatment of this peculiar 

During 1874 and 1875 on the strength of good results- 
Sir Charles and Edward extended the works, building 
large stores. They also erected good stone and brick 

1 On his return, this son went to Balliol College, Oxford ; and 
after taking his degree, was called to the Bar (Inner Temple). 


houses in fact, a regular little colony for the accommoda- 
tion of the officers and miners, about 200 of whom were 
allowed by the Austrian Government to come to the colony 
across the Danube, with their families. Mr. J. E. T. Woods 
and subsequently Captain J.E. Hunter, R.N., who had 
previously co-operated with the brothers in their West 
Indian cable work assisted in the management. Others 
of the staff took part in this mining undertaking and in 
the analysis of the ore from the various workings notably 
Mr. Leslie Hill and Mr. Percy Tarbutt, afterwards a mining 
engineer of eminence and a director of several African 
and Australian mining companies. 

The two brothers were greatly pleased with the country, 
and also enjoyed their work ; they made yearly a couple 
of stays of three months each, during which they superin- 
tended the mining operations, both above and below ground. 
When special supervision was not needed at the works 
there was no difficulty in passing away the time. There 
were generally some friends out on a visit, including 
Sir Charles' brother-in-law, Mr. Robert John Taylor, as 
well as Mr. E. B. Webb and Mr. H. Meissner and others, to 
form riding parties to explore the forests, and, sometimes, 
to hunt and shoot. 

The domain comprised about eight square miles ; while 
the seignorial and timber-cutting rights extended over 
sixty square miles nearly all of virgin forest. This formed 
the commencement of an enormous tract stretching for 
nigh upon a thousand miles through Servia and Bulgaria 
towards the south-west along the range of the Balkan 
Mountains, as far as the Black Sea. The principal tenants 


were wolves, deer, and wild boar, besides the hazel huhn, 
quail, and very big hares. 

During his various stays in Servia, Sir Charles wrote a 
number of letters home, to his wife and others. Although 
mostly of a domestic nature, the following serves to describe 
an experience of some interest : 


July igth, 1875. 

... I have a chance of writing to-day by a wagon, so I send 
you this little note. . . . 

Yesterday I went to a place outside our land about two and 
a half hours' ride where the Archbishop was consecrating a 
new church. His chaplain had been here paying a visit with 
three other priests, and asked us to come. 

The Archbishop was in church when we arrived, and the cere- 
mony was half over, as we were a little late in starting. After- 
wards he sent his chaplain to invite us to see him, and received 
me most graciously as though he had known me for years. 
He is a very quiet-spoken, gentle, sort of man, and evidently 
a most amiable person. 

He received us (Hunter and me) in a sort of bower, made up 
for the occasion of wooden poles set in the ground, with branches 
of leafy trees twisted all round so as to make an arbour of about 
twelve feet square. Sweetmeats were brought in, according to 
custom, and we conversed, through our interpreter, for about 
twenty minutes, about all kinds of things. . . . 

He then asked us to take breakfast with him ; so, afterwards 
breakfast being here about noon we went to a long table 
(also in the church grounds) covered with a similar kind of arbour 
or foliage, erected just for the time. There at the upper end of 
the table sat the Archbishop ; I was on his right, and Hunter 
sat next to me. The Natchalih, or principal civil officer of the 
district, was on his left, and about a dozen priests, or " popas," 

c c 


on each side. Then below were all the chief villagers that is 
to say, the oldest men, or communal heads. The table (made 
of planks on trestles) was about 100 feet long, so you may imagine 
there were a great number present. We had some curious soup, 
and other food, in the course of which the Archbishop drank his 
first glass to me, and I to him, according to the Serbish custom. 
What do you think the glass contained ? beer ! Afterwards 
various toasts were drunk. One to the Prince was proposed 
very quietly by the Archbishop. The latter then retired, and 
a few minutes later sent a fine melon to me as a present. 

On taking leave he was most cordial, and begged that I should 
never be in Belgrade without coming to see him. He, on his 
part, promised to visit me at Kucaina. 

At the ceremony the robes were very gorgeous. The Arch- 
bishop wore a crown of some pearl and Silver-like stuff probably 
pearls strung on silver wire with silver lace embroidery, and a 
splendid - I don't know what to call it ; I know it can't be 
right to call it a cloak, though it was something of that sort. 

After the ceremony all the people walked by and kissed a 
cross which he held in his left hand. Then they kissed his right 
hand, in which he had a little bunch of flowers, with which he 
gave them a little pat on the forehead, by way of blessing. . . . 

But the profits, as well as the pleasures, of Kucaina 
were not to last. Towards the end of 1876, of all uncon- 
scionable things that could happen, the little State of 
Servia with a certain incomprehensible self-confidence 
declared war against the Turks ! It suffices to say 
that the result was disastrous to the mines ; for Austria, 
objecting to the war, had called back all the Hungarian 
miners, who were mostly in their Frontier Guard, or 
" Landwehr." At the same time, both Austria and Turkey 
whose territories entirely surrounded Servia prohibited 
the export of dynamite or gunpowder. As the former was 


an essential for dealing with the hard limestone, and could 
not be made in the country, work was practically stopped 
for lack of men and explosives. 

Sir Charles and his brother kept operations going for 
some years after ; but it was such a costly and trouble- 
some process that the mines had eventually to be given up. 


The Fire Alarm 

Electron sits, a sentinel alway 

To watch the fire fiend in his stealthy start, 

And then to stir the town with clamours at its heart ! 

IN the course of the year 1878, the brothers brought 
out a system of fire alarms 1 based upon their method 
of ascertaining the locality of faults in telegraph conduc- 
tors, which they had patented as far back as 1852, and which 
has already been referred to. 

The advantage of a prompt warning as soon as a fire 
begins scarcely needs urging. A Committee of the House 
of Commons had recently reported on the Metropolitan 
Fire Brigade. This report stated that the first duty of a 
police constable on the breaking out of a fire was to give the 
alarm to those about ; and, if the fire was in a house, to 
arouse the inmates. Some time would thus be lost more in 
running to the nearest station and, as has been justly said, 
the very period in which the fire could be nipped in the bud 
is lost in these preliminary arrangements. Indeed, the 
first five minutes at a fire is worth (in the opinion of the chiefs 

1 See Patent Specification No. 3,801, of 1878. 


of the Fire Brigade) the next five hours. It remains only 
to remark that the " prompt warning " advocated above 
is best secured electrically. 

In the United States, and many countries of Europe, 
fire alarm call-posts were already an accomplished fact, 
but over here scarcely any- 
thing had been done in this. ^ 
direction. A few call-posts 
on the American system, 
with clockwork as the lead- 
ing characteristic, had only T"TT ' 
been introduced tentatively. 
Such apparatus not only 
costs a good deal, but was, 
from its very nature, sub- 
ject to get out of order - 
from rust, wear and tear, 
and other causes. 

By the Bright system, 
thorough simplicity and re- 
liability were obtained, com- 
bined with low initial cost. 
The locality of the fire or, 
rather, of the call - post FIRE ALARM POST 

from which the summons 

to the engine is given is indicated by a few yards of 
wire in the post, or call-box. Each coil of wire has a 
definite electrical resistance, peculiar to itself, which is intro- 
duced into the line circuit by merely pulling out the " short 
circuiting " handle. This disturbs a balance of resistance 


at the central (fire) station and rings a bell. The fireman 
on watch then turns a handle, which inserts resistances in the 
circuits corresponding to those in the posts. Thus, when 
the bell stops ringing, the handle points to the place whence 
the alarm proceeded, the particular coil (i.e. call-post) 
being thus indicated at the Fire Brigade station and this 
without clockwork or anything that can suffer from exposure 
to air or moisture in the posts. 

After showing working models to Captain Shaw, 1 the 
Chief of the Brigade, and also to the Metropolitan Board 
of Works, this simple but effective system was largely 
adopted in and around London. 

As it was deemed desirable that an acknowledgment should 
be given from the brigade station to the person effecting 
the call, the resistance wire was coiled upon an iron core, 
and thus converted into an electro-magnet in close proximity 
to an armature. To the end of the latter was fitted a light 
red disc, which showed itself at a hole in the call box, when 
the current passed. The acknowledgment is then made 
from the engine station by breaking and making the circuit 
with an ordinary key, thus occasioning the disc at the alarm 
post to wave to and fro. 

As a proof of the great advantage of such street calls, no 
less than fifty calls were given to fires in ten months on the 
first fifteen call points put up in the City and in South- 
wark. After this, the system was rapidly extended to 
twenty circuits in London, comprising nearly ninety miles 
of line and one hundred and forty call points. 

1 Afterwards Sir Eyre Massey Shaw, K.C.B. 



A further extension of the principle by another patent l 
was then introduced by the brothers. This applied it 
to giving automatic notice of fire starting in buildings by 
contact being made to connect up the apparatus and ring 
a bell, or bells, upon undue heat arising in any room. 2 It 
was introduced throughout the South Kensington Museum 
and in several other important buildings. 

There are various contrivances by which an undue or 


abnormal increase of temperature in a room may be made to 
give an alarm by electricity such as., the rising of mercury 
in a tube, or the melting of easily fusible metals ; but the 
brothers determined that the cheapest and most convenient 
was a small bi-metallic spring. By making it of brass on 
one side, and steel, or platinum, on the other, it was shown 
that the difference of expansion of the metals causes the 
spring to move until it comes into contact with a screw 
terminal, which can be adjusted to the desired temperature. 

1 Specification No. 596, of 1878. 

1 This apparatus was especially intended for out-of-the-way 
(unvisited) warehouses particularly corn mills. It can be adjusted 
so as to give the alarm at any predetermined temperature. 


As the heat detectors may be set to give warning at any 
temperature exceeding that of the normal state of the air in 
a building, they can be employed to indicate the commence- 
ment of any heating in heaps of corn, jute, etc. either when 
on board ship or stored in warehouses thus calling atten- 
tion before actual harm is done, or spontaneous combustion 
sets in. 

In the same way the heating of coal on board ship can be 
at once detected, either in holds or bunkers. As we all 
know, this is a prolific cause of fire at sea ; and it was, then, 
in this direction, partly, that the above automatic fire alarm 
was intended to come to the rescue. 

Where the system was to be used as a self-acting alarm in 
buildings or ships, a " localiser " was placed in combination 
with mere " detectors." The object of the " localiser " is 
to make known the particular part of the building (or ship) 
affected. The " heat detector " is set to a given tempera- 
ture say 110 Fah. and immediately that temperature 
is exceeded in any portion, contact is made automatically, 
and the alarm given by a loud (electric) bell, or gong, placed 
in the most effective position. 

From the foregoing, it will be seen that the invention had 
a number of other practical applications where a specified 
temperature requires to be maintained. 

When exhibited later, at the International Electrical 
Exhibition at Paris, in 1881, the Bright Fire Alarms gained 
the only gold medal awarded to such apparatus ; and the 
distinction of a gold medal was also awarded to the system 
at the English (Crystal Palace) Exhibition in 1882. 

The invention was extensively brought forward by papers 


and lectures in London, Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, 
Bradford, and Hull ; but, for some time, the public gener- 
ally showed much apathy about these life and property saving 
appliances, forget /ul of Shakespeare's proverb : 

A little fire is quickly trodden out ; 
Which being suffered, rivers cannot quench. 

As for the Insurance Companies, although they received 
premiums in the United Kingdom of more than twelve mil- 
lions per annum of which, on the average, they repay for 
losses by fire about 50 per cent., or six millions 1 their 
United Tariff Committee persistently declined to make any 
concession in rates in connection with these self-acting fire 
alarms. This though they afford the means of bringing 
hydrants and extincteurs to bear on a fire at the outset 
when they may be used with some effect ! 2 

As a reason for turning a deaf ear to the alarm, a certain 
manager (of one of the largest Insurance Societies) frankly 
said that the general use of such appliances might militate 
against their business, inasmuch as they found that a large 
fire now and then actually benefited them bringing a shoal 
of new insurers ! 

An interesting episode occurred when the first patent 
was taken out in 1878. Those days being before the appoint- 
ment of a special " Controller," the application was referred 
to the law officers of the Crown, and this came before the 

1 Insurance Cyclopedia. 

2 Yet the companies make considerable reductions where hydrants, 
extincteurs, and water buckets are kept on the premises insured. 


then Attorney-General, the genial Sir Hardinge Giffard, Q.C. 
now Lord Halsbury. His patent expert did not see how 
the system of resistances could be worked or made the sub- 
ject of a patent, nor could Sir Hardinge, after a personal- 
explanation at his Chambers in the Temple. He was, how- 
ever, considerate enough to come to the habitat at Golden 
Square, 1 where Sir Charles and his brother showed him work- 
ing models, which he tested himself. The result was that 
he became perfectly satisfied, and at once gave his fiat for 
the patent. 

A little later, Mr. Edward Bright read a paper at the 
Society of Telegraph Engineers and Electricians with re- 
ference to the fire alarm in all its aspects. 2 During the 
course of the discussion which followed, one of the speakers 
alluded to an American invention which reminded Sir Charles 
of another, which he humorously referred to as follows : 

I have in recollection a burglar alarm which I believe hailed 
from the same quarter. It was a system which, in ingenuity and 
ambition, could hardly be surpassed. By an electrical arrange- 
ment embodied in this invention, when the burglar stood in 
position to open the safe, a trap door under his feet opened and 
precipitated him into a cell below, where he would be safe till 
morning, when an indicator would show that the trap door had 
been in action ! The only defect in the arrangement seemed to 

1 This large corner house (No. 31), occupied as offices and experi- 
mental rooms by the brothers, was said to be that referred to by 
Dickens as Ralph Nickleby's. 

2 "Electric Fire Alarms." By E. B. Bright, M.Inst.C.E., 
Member of Council (Journ, Soc. Tel. Eng., vol. xiii). 


be the absence of an automatic handcuffing arrangement when 
the burglar was trapped. 

The Bright Fire Alarm in all its varieties as now fitted 
up throughout London and other towns was described in the 
newspapers and technical journals at the time ; and the 
Graphic, of September 6th, 1880, contained a fully illustrated 
article thereon. 



"\ T riTH the advent of the telephone there commenced a 
new epoch in the progress of electrical communi- 
cation, and ever since Professor Graham Bell exhibited, in 
1876, his original" speaking telegraph " at the Philadelphia 
Exhibition, Bright took up the subject warmly. 

A year later, Professor D.E.Hughes invented the micro- 
phone perhaps the best transmitter in conjunction with 
the Bell receiver. Sir Charles had first observed (as early 
as 1852) that pressure altered the resistance of a mercury 
contact a fact which has some historical interest in con- 
nection with the theory of the microphone. The carbon 
transmitter invented by Edison, about the same time, also 
helped to render the telephone a practical success. A number 
of other transmitters and receivers followed, some of which 
Sir Charles experimented with and reported on. 

Various companies were soon promoted in the United 
Kingdom for establishing Telephony throughout towns. 
In 1880 the United Kingdom Telephone Company * was 
incorporated in England for purposes of telephone exploita- 

1 Now, by amalgamation, the National Telephone Company, 
which eventually absorbed all the other telephone working concerns 
in this country. 



tion, since which most of our large cities have been connected 
by trunk telephone lines. Central exchanges for intercom- 
munication by word of mouth have been established in all 
the larger towns, and the telephone is now in constant use 
in almost every office, as well as in a large proportion of the 
private houses throughout towns. 

Another important company established about the same 
time was the Edison Telephone Company, and soon after 
its formation the Crown took legal action against them for 
infringement of their telegraph monopoly of this country. 
It was to be a " test case " ; and Bright was applied to by 
Government to give his views as a witness on their behalf. 
This he did. In his evidence, Sir Charles proved at length 
that telephones worked merely by varying currents of 
electricity through a wire no sound actually passing. He, 
in fact, showed conclusively that a telephone was a form 
of electric telegraph, and therefore came within the meaning 
of the Telegraph Acts of 1868 and 1869. It may be added 
that his view was supported by most of the eminent practical 
experts of the day. 

As an outcome of the above proceedings, the National 
Telephone Company now works under licence from the 
Government for the use of telephones amongst themselves 
by people in the same city or town. It is only a question 
of a few years when the telephone system comes altogether 
under the direct management of the Post Office. The 
sooner this takes place, the better for the public it being 
indisputable that the telegraph and telephone are intended 
to work together. 


Electric Lighting 

/"XUR friends across the Channel were enthusiastic about 
^^ electric lighting long before it was seriously dealt with 
in England. Important installations in Paris illuminated 
the Rue de 1'Opera and other main thoroughfares several 
years antecedent to any public lighting being carried out 
in London. 

The earliest experiment here was made with a few Jabloch- 
koff lights on the Embankment ; and the first commercial 
undertaking in this direction was the British Electric Light 
Company, established in 1878. Mr. Joseph Hubback, a 
former mayor of Liverpool, was the chairman, and among 
the directors were Mr. Edward Easton, C.E. ; General 
Sir Henry Green, K.C.B. ; Mr. Frederick Walters, of the 
firm of Frederick Huth & Co. ; Mr. Adam Blandy, and 
Mr. Edward Bright, whilst Sir Charles acted as their consult- 
ing engineer. 

The basis of operations was the purchase of the English 
patents for M. Gramme's dynamo machines, and the subse- 
quent acquisition of Mr. St. George Lane Fox's incandescent 
lamps, as well as the arc lamps of Mr. Brockie the first 
really steady light of the kind. Public exhibitions were 


given, and lighting contracts were carried out with a num- 
ber of clubs, factories, mills, and shops, besides various 
large steamers, including some of the Navy. Amongst 
the latter was H.M.S. Bacchante, commanded by Captain 
(now Vice-Admiral) Lord Charles Scott, just before taking 
the young princes Albert Victor and George on their voyage 
round the world. Among other installations was the South- 
Eastern Railway Station at Cannon Street with its approach- 
ing bridge. Stafford House was also lighted by the Company 
for the Duke of Sutherland. 

For some years after its start, the Company made good 
progress. Their competitors were Messrs. Siemens Brothers 
and Messrs. R. E. Crompton & Co. both of whom had 
very good machines of their own as well as the " Brush " 
Company, who adopted an American variety of dynamo. 
The " British " Company established a large central station 
and factory in Heddon Street, at the back of Regent Street, 
and started lighting some clubs in Albemarle Street and Dover 
Street, by means of overhead wires, in 1880. These wires 
were slung from a tall mast on the roof of the premises, for 
at that time there was no Electric Lighting Act giving powers 
to undermine the streets for underground wires. 

The Company prospered, and were making profits by 1881. 
They exhibited their improved Gramme apparatus and lamps 
on a large scale at the Paris Exhibition of that year, and 
received a high award. They were also the first to bring 
forward M. Faure's great improvements on M. Plante's 
storage cells. In the following year (1882) the " British " 
Company gave a beautiful demonstration of the lighting 
effects of the Lane-Fox coloured incandescent lamps, for 


dinner table ornamentation and house decoration ; this 
was at the Crystal Palace during the International Electric 
Exhibition held there. The Company also lighted a large 
section of the building with their Brockie arc lights. 

But the good time did not last long. The Company's 
overhead wires were cut by neighbouring landlords, on the 
ground that, although the lines were stretched far above their 
buildings, their (landlord) rights went farther and extended 
from the bowels of the earth usque ad ccelum or even beyond. 
Maybe these soil holders were also gas holders ! Then 
again, when the limited number of contracts were just 
enough to give a profit to the few engaged in the business, 
their principal opponents, the " Brush Company " suddenly 
brought out and floated a spawn of minor companies, to 
each of which was assigned a county or small division of the 
United Kingdom, so that the competition was tenfold, to 
the detriment of all save the parent company. Sir Charles 
predicted that a " winding-up machine " would soon be 
required ; and this proved to be so, for in a few years 
most of these subsidiary companies went to the wall. 

In 1882 a Bill, was brought in by Government giving 
electric lighting powers. It, however, acted as an obstacle 
to development, and was apparently framed to protect 
the threatened interests of the Gas Companies ; for while 
it gave municipalities the right, under certain conditions, 
to lay underground wires and supply lights, it also gave 
them the power to take over the works of any company 
in twenty-one years at a valuation of their apparatus, pipes, 
wires, etc. for what they would fetch, rather than as a 
"going concern." Their profits and "goodwill" were, in 

D D 


fact, not to be taken into account. It is needless to say 
that neither a capitalist nor the investing public would 
" go in " on such terms, and electric lighting was practically 
hung up for five years till the new Act was passed in 1887. 
That extended the purchase period to forty-two years. 

During this early stage in electric lighting, Sir Charles 
had devised various ingenious improvements in dynamos, 
storage cells, methods of transformation and distribution, 
besides modified arc and incandescent lamps for special 

He was also largely engaged as an expert before Parlia- 
mentary committees on the subject ; and in this connection 
he and his brother furnished a number of particulars relating 
to the cost of producing light by electricity. 

The Corporations of many important towns, being anxious 
to consider the question of supplying themselves with the 
electric light, applied during several years following 
1882 for estimates and specifications, a large proportion 
of which were carefully worked out by Sir Charles, in con- 
junction with Mr. John Muirhead, M.Inst.C.E., and his 
brother, Dr. Alexander Muirhead ; but the majority of 
the municipalities were at that time afraid to make the 

The slow rate of progress was, no doubt, largely due to 
the state of affairs referred to in the following letter of 
Sir Charles' to The Times : 

To the Editor of " The Times" 

Your leading article of to-day on the present outlook of the 


working of the Electric Lighting Act points to the considerable 
dangers to be apprehended by ratepayers. They also point to 
trouble of other kinds hereafter, arising from the legislation of 
last year, which was, to my mind, too much hurried. 

My object in addressing you now is to show that much dissatis- 
faction will be the outcome of the operation of the Act, if the 
Provisional Orders being issued by the Board of Trade should be 
confirmed by Parliament without a thoughtfu 1 forecast being 
made of the future position of the consumers and the persons to 
whom the concessions may have been granted. 

It happens that I had to give much attention to the matter, 
for I have been consulted (in association with Mr. John Muirhead) 
by many corporations and local authorities upon the technicali- 
ties involved in the Provisional Orders in which the ratepayers' 
interests are greatly concerned. 

I am glad that Sir Hussey Vivian has succeeded in removing 
the difficulties in the way of obtaining a full hearing of objections 
to the Bills ; but unless the local authorities take advantage of 
this by acting promptly, they will, I think, have cause for regret 

It was clearly intended, both by the Act itself and by the regu- 
lations of the Board of Trade, that local authorities should apply 
for the orders to supply electricity. It is expressly stated in 
Rule 2 that the Board " will give a preference to the application 
of the local authority of the district." As it is, very few have 
so applied ; consequently the consumers will have to look to 
the various newly-formed compan'es, who have made applica- 
tions, for their supply. 

I do not wish to criticise the position of these companies, 
but, as a fair example, I find that one company has paid nearly 
a quarter of a million pounds in cash and shares merely for one 
of the many forms of incandescent lamps. What hope, there- 
fore, have the ratepayers in a district to be served by such a 
company of obtaining the electric light at a reasonable price ? 

Several millions have been spent by the companies applying 
for Provisional Orders in unproductive purchases of this kind ; 


and if action is not now taken, the ratepayers will have to provide 
dividends on the enormous sums thus improvidently expended 
on promoters and patentees. 

Furthermore, such companies are tied to the so-called " sys- 
tems " for which they have paid so heavily ; and, if they are 
allowed to obtain what will be virtual monopolies, they are not 
likely to sell their obsolete plant at the value of old iron in order 
to introduce superior and more economical apparatus when 
they have the consumers at their mercy. For it may be assumed 
that although not contemplated by the Act a virtual mono- 
poly will be acquired owing to the natural objection of the authori- 
ties to grant permission to several companies to break up the 
same streets. 

It is a notable fact that the original " Gramme " patent for 
the best known and most largely used electric lighting machine 
expires and becomes public property in less than a year. When 
this occurs, the capital sunk in most of the other patents even 
assuming that they have any present value will, pro tanto, be 
rendered unproductive. 

Surely, then, the local authorities, as representing the rate- 
payers, should ask Parliament to refrain from confirming to 
the companies these Provisional Orders until the whole question 
is more thoroughly considered in all its bearings. The Metro- 
politan Board of Works have already taken a step in this direc- 
tion by lodging a petition to Parliament. 

My opinion is, that if the present Provisional Orders as granted 
by the Board of Trade to the various light companies are con- 
firmed by Parliament, the effect will be to double the necessary 
price of electricity to the consumers in the districts affected. 

Yours faithfully, 


July 6th, 1883. 

In December, 1884 as a result of the unsatisfactory 


condition here alluded to the Board of Trade called 
together a select committee to thoroughly consider some pro- 
posed amendments to the Electric Lighting Bill of 1882. 

This committee was formed at the instance of Lord 
Thurlow. Besides Sir Charles, it included Sir Frederick 
Abel, K.C.B., F.R.S. ; Sir Frederick Bramwell, F.R.S. ; 
Sir Daniel Cooper, K.C.M.G. ; Sir Rawson Rawson, K.C.M.G., 
C.B. ; Sir David Salomons ; Sir William Thomson, F.R.SS. 
(L. & E.) ; Professor W. E. Ayrton, F.R.S. ; Mr. Latimer 
Clark, M.Inst.C.E. ; Mr. R. E. Crompton, M.Inst.C.E.; 
Professor W. Crookes, F.R.S. ; Professor George Forbes, 
F.R.S.E. ; Mr. James Staats Forbes ; Captain Douglas 
Galton, C.B., F.R.S. ; Mr. Robert Hammond ; Professor 
Andrew Jamieson, F.R.S.E. ; Professor Fleeming Jenkin, 
F.R.SS. (L. & E.) ; Major S. Flood-Page ; Mr. J. W. Swan ; 
Professor Silvanus Thompson, and Mr. Frank Wynne. 

Sir Charles sometimes presided at the meetings of this 
committee ; Mr. Emile Garcke acted as secretary through- 
out, whilst the entire management thereof came under the 
control of the late Sir Henry Calcraft, K.C.B. (an old friend 
of Sir Charles'), as Permanent Secretary to the Board of 

This select committee of inquiry had a number of meet- 
ings, and eventually some favourable changes in the Act 
were submitted and approved. 

Amongst others, the authorities of Bristol once applied 
to Bright to investigate the question of utilising the great 
tidal flow of the river Avon as a source of power to drive 
dynamo machines for the distribution of electric light and 


power. He was first approached by Mr. William Smith, 
of Clifton Down, while at his post in Paris as a British 
Commissioner to the Exhibition. The following is a copy 
of Sir Charles' letter to Mr. Smith on the subject : 

PARIS, 27th October, 1881. 

Since you left Paris I have considered your enquiry as to 
employing the tidal waters at Bristol for electric lighting and 
other purposes, and the particulars of the local conditions of 
the question which you named to me. 

The practical (or controlling) feature of the proposition lies 
in the availability of the force intermittently accumulated by the 
tide. From your description of ths tidal action, and the sketch 
plan which you drew at our first discussion upon the subject, 
there appears to be an hydraulic force which, expressed in 
horse-power, would be very great indeed now thrown away, 
but which is capable of utilisation. 

I- know many places in England and other parts of the world 
where tidal power is economically used ; and at a lecture given 
in the early part of the year at the Society of Arts upon " Elec- 
trical Railroads and Tramways," I drew attention to the special 
applicability of electricity to the transmission of force from our 
great watersheds, and the tidal power where the physical cir- 
cumstances of the place can be profitably dealt with. You may 
assume, at all events, that there are millions of horse-power at 
present running to waste in many places, but which by the 
perfection of dynamo electrical machines during the last few 
years, and the facility of carrying force by electricity to a dis- 
tance, may be brought into service in a commercial and lucra- 
tive shape. This may be taken as an established scientific fact. 

Of course, further progress will be made, of which advantage 
can be taken by those who are first in the field to secure the use of 
available water-power ; but as far as we have progressed at 
present you may take it for granted that given so much in horse- 


power you may get so much in light or motive power for 
distributing to workshops, without any cost beyond the wear and 
tear, lubrication, and expense of supervision (which can be dis- 
tributed over many machines) in places where water-power is 
economically available. 

I shall be glad to run down to Bristol on my return to England 
and examine the locality of your water storage, and consider its 
applicability on the spot. 

Yours very truly, 


When the letter was placed before the Town Council, 
it was accompanied by some interesting data from the 
Dock Engineer, Mr. Thomas Howard, as to the amount and 
speed of the water passing, supplemented by a series of 
calculations worked out by Professor Silvanus Thompson, 
F.R.S., of Bristol University College, showing that the avail- 
able tidal power amounted, per tide taken only on the 
outflow as follows : 

At Totterdown, 279,389 horse-power. 
,, Rownham Ferry, 859,658 horse-power. 
,, Mouth of River, 2,149,146 horse-power. 
Giving a total of no less than 3,288,193 horse-power per tide. 

The economical utilisation of this enormous power- 
representing about 75 billions of foot-pounds per annum 
was a curious problem to solve. 

In working out the details, the calculations made by Sir 
Charles went to show that the cost of the cumbrous appliances 
necessary to turn the tide to account whether by a great 
series of slow-moving mill wheels, or by great floats coupled 
with the necessity for storage of electricity during the inter- 


vals of motion, would entail a far heavier prime cost than 
steam power close to its work on shore. The conditions 
were, in fact, unfavourable in this instance to the economical 
utilisation of water power. 

Whilst at Bristol in connection with this matter, Sir 
Charles stayed a little distance off with his son-in-law and 
daughter, Mr. and Mrs. Mervyn King a visit he naturally 
much enjoyed. 

At the special invitation of the Governors of the Bristol 
Trade and Mining Schools he distributed the prizes for that 
year. In doing so he gave an exhaustive address to a great 
audience of scholars. Sir Charles chose for his subject 
" Electric Science," and during his discourse he explained 
the various developments of its application up to date. 

Sir Charles Bright continued to take an active part in the 
development of electric lighting up to the last. 

Early in 1888 he undertook to act as engineer to the St. 
James' and Pall Mall Electric Lighting Company one of 
the companies formed under the New Act. 1 A long report 
was drafted by Bright for the Company a day or two 
before his death, but he did not live to sign it. His brother 
subsequently sent it in to the Board ; and Sir Charles was 
later succeeded in the capacity of consulting engineer by 
an old friend Professor George Forbes, F.R.SS. (L. & E.). 

1 The enormous work done by the " St. James' and Pall Mall" 
Company over a comparatively small area up to the year 1895, 
was well shown in the Electrical Times of March 5 th, 1896. This Com- 
pany is certainly one of the greatest successes of the new illumina- 


Various Evidence and Reports 

The " Direct United States " Cable Arbitration 

\ N interesting Cable case was arbitrated upon in 1878, 
-^*- in which Sir Charles Bright gave important and 
rather amusing evidence : 

The " Direct United States" Cable was made and laid by 
Messrs. Siemens Bros., in 1875, for the Company so named, 
between this country and the States. But owing to their 
opponents the original Anglo-American Telegraph Company 
cutting the message tariff down to a shilling per word, 
and partly to mysterious breaks of the cable, the " Direct 
Company " did not yield a sufficient return, and the majority 
of shareholders resolved to wind it up. The liquidators 
appointed arranged to form a new company to work with 
the " Anglo-American Company " under an arrangement ; 
but owing to differences on the subject the matter had to 
be brought before an arbitrator. 

Naturally much of the value of the " Direct " Com- 
pany depended upon the existing condition of their cable, 
and it was sought to show, on behalf of those negotiating 
the proposed alliance with the " Anglo," that the serving 


of yarn protecting the outer wires was in a state of rapid 
decay, and that the wires themselves were partly rusted 
away. In corroboration of this, a length was produced 
which had been picked up when a fault had been grappled 
for. Sure enough, the yarn covering was scarred with 
the pit -holes, as though it had had the small-pox ; moreover, 
at the ends of the specimen the iron wires were attenu- 
ated to fine points. 

The holes above alluded to were attributed by the other 
side to the ravages of the teredo. Sir Charles, however, 
created somewhat of a sensation on the tenth day of the 
arbitration by pronouncing that they were more likely 
to be due to cockroaches ! In the first place, he expressed 
his disbelief in the existence of teredoes in great depths 
in the North Atlantic ; and after minute examination of 
the specimen, he said, regarding the nibbles : 

I have formed an opinion that they have not been caused by 
any insect at the bottom of the sea, but I believe them to be 
produced by cockroaches at the bottom of the ship. I have had a 
book of my own in my cabin in the West Indies, which is eaten, in 
circles like that, by cockroaches. This is almost exactly similar 
to the leaves of the book eaten through. I should like to know 
the history of that specimen from the time it was picked up. 

There are some small shells in and about the outside of the 
cable in fact, such as you would always get up with any cable 
which has been resting at the bottom. But they are not insects 
of the character I have been accustomed to see in specimens 
brought up where the hemp has been eaten into by them, and in 
which in every case I have seen specimens a great number 
of the insects have remained, almost filling up the holes themselves. 
There are many of these specimens in existence, and some have 
been photographed. 


The Umpire : " Cockroaches bore, do they ? " 
Sir Charles : ' ' They eat round the holes with their mandibles. " 
The Umpire : " How deep ? " 

Sir Charles : "I have had forty or fifty pages of a book bored 
through." 1 

As regards the attenuation of the iron wires at the end 
of the specimen, as alleged, from general rusting away, Sir 
Charles put the wires in a gauge and showed that they 
were the same size as when the cable was made, except 
just at the end of the specimen, where the cable had broken, 
and where they were drawn down to points as he ex- 
plained by excessive strain. 

The above facts and opinions naturally went some way 
in upsetting the important contentions of the other side. 

Other Atlantic Cables 

Since the 1865 and 1866 Atlantic Cables, several others 
had been laid. In addition to the Direct United States 
Cable just referred to, there had been the French Atlantic 
Cable of 1869, to which Sir Charles had acted as con- 
sulting engineer. These and the Anglo-American Com- 
pany's lines were eventually " pooled " together so far as 
commercial earnings went. 

Owing to the continuance of the Atlantic Cable monopoly 
by the amalgamation or " pooling " arrangements come 
to from time to time by the companies concerned, Mr. 
James Gordon Bennett, the well-known proprietor of the 

1 Arbitration between Johann Carl Ludwig Loeffler and the liqui- 
dators of the Direct United States Cable, August gth, 1878. Ques- 
tions 4,249-4,253. 


New York Herald, combined with Mr. Mackay (the Silver 
King), in 1882, to lay a couple of entirely independent 
lines. Mr. Bennett with his agent in England, Capt. A. H. 
Clark consulted Sir Charles on the subject, and the latter 
drew out a full specification embodying all that was best 
for the construction of an Atlantic cable. 1 

The lines were subsequently made and laid by Messrs. 
Siemens ; and have been worked most satisfactorily since, 
as the Commercial Cable Company's property. 

Duplex Telegraphy 

During 1883, Mr. John Muirhead, who in conjunc- 
tion with his brother and Mr. Herbert Taylor had long 
before invented the system of electrically duplexing cables 
so universally adopted found that the French Govern- 
ment had been employing a similar method of duplexing 
recently patented by Mr. Ailhaud, in connection with certain 
cables belonging to the Administration. He was obliged to 
take proceedings in the matter, and consulted Sir Charles, 
who studied the case very closely and wrote a digest on 
the subject. The report was long and necessarily technical ; 
but, determined on the fact of infringement, his conclu- 
sions were as follows : 

In the arrangement for the Marseilles-Algiers cable they (the 
French Government) use at least two of the methods invented 
by Muirhead, and consequently they infringe his patent. 

I am informed that Ailhaud's Counsel allege that as he did 

1 Sir Charles' Report on the subject was reproduced in Appendix 
23 of Vol. II of the original biography. 


not employ in his combination the special form of artificial cable 
patented by Muirhead, he could not have infringed the latter 's 
patent. To this I reply that the devices indicated by Muir- 
head constituting separate and distinct inventions, may be apr 
plied equally to all forms of duplex, and may be worked with 
any system of artificial line. I am of opinion that Mr. Muir- 
head's invention has been laid under contribution by Ailhaud 
in all its essential features. 


July ijth, 1883. 

It remains only to be said that the matter was ulti- 
mately settled in Mr. Muirhead's favour. 

The Phonopore 

In the year 1884, Mr. C. Langdon Davies invented his 
phonopore telegraph. It was almost immediately brought 
to Sir Charles' notice. He became much interested 
in fact enthusiastic about it and drew up a long report 
thereon. Sir Charles was afterwards the first president 
of the Phonopore Syndicate, remaining so up to the time 
of his death. 

This apparatus forms a most valuable adjunct to land- 
line systems for purposes of duplex telegraphy the line 
being duplexed also, if required and it is perhaps surprising 
that it has not been yet turned to still further account. 
On aerial lines, it has proved to be capable of working 
through 500 miles and over. It is now doing good work 
on the Great Western, Midland, Great Eastern and Brighton 
Railways. If applied in connection with ordinary duplex 
telegraphy the combined systems effect no less than 180 
(twenty to thirty worded) messages an hour ! 


The Paris Exhibition 

SO far ahead had France progressed in public electric 
lighting, and so important had the question of the 
introduction of telephones become in conjunction with 
the many improvements in telegraphy and other electrical 
appliances that in 1880 the Government of the Republic 
decided to inaugurate an International Electrical Exhibition 
in Paris during the following year. In October, 1880, 
they communicated officially with the other Governments. 
The result, as regards England, is very clearly stated in 
the following extract from The Times of July 4th, 1881 : 

The English Foreign Office after the natural period of incu- 
bation for such documents received an invitation to appoint 
Commissioners to assist in the work. 

By the time this had been received and duly considered, the 
Belgian Government, to quote one instance out of several, had 
collected together double the number of exhibitors that England 
had the slightest chance of bringing forward. Meanwhile the 
Foreign Office found itself unable to deal with the undertaking 
proposed, so it was passed on successively to the Post Office, 
the Board of Trade, South Kensington, and every department 
which could possibly be expected to deal with a suggestion that 
an Exhibition could be held on other than the approved models, 
and without an expenditure of 50,000 or 60,000 of public 



money. Mr. Gladstone, on the perfectly intelligible general 
ground that it is not the province of Government to foster special 
and sectional exhibitions, refused to sanction any grant of money, 
and the entire matter sank into stillness till a question was asked 
in the House of Commons of Sir C. Dilke, as Under-Secretary 
for Foreign Affairs, whether the Government had really no inten- 
tion of taking any part in what was going on. Sir Charles Dilke 
replied that the Government had no intention of appointing any 

Upon Sir Charles Dilke 's reply becoming known in Paris, M. 
Berger, the Commissaire-General of the Exhibition, wrote to the 
principal technical society in England devoted to electricity and 
invited its co-operation in default of that of the Government. 

The Society of Telegraph Engineers and Electricians at once 
set to work, by forming and sending to Paris, to put things into 
shape, a special committee, of which Sir Charles Bright was 
chairman, and Mr. W. H. Preece and Mr. Edward Graves, chief 
officers of the Postal Telegraphs, and Professor D. E. Hughes, 
together with several other well-known scientific men, were 

The time originally cut to waste having been in great measure 
recovered, and every arrangement having been made without 
official aid or interference, the Government was at last moved 
to appoint a Commission, of which the Earl of Crawford and 
Balcarres, K.T., was the Chief Commissioner, supported by Sir 
Charles Bright, Professor Hughes, and Colonel Webber, R.E. 1 

After the appointment of the Commission matters were 
pushed on in this country, and a large number of exhibitors 
came forward. 

The exhibition was opened during the summer of 1881 
in the great Palais de 1'Industrie, and proved a thorough 

1 Subsequently Major-General C. E. Webber, C.B. 


success. As the chief president of the British section, Sir 
Charles attended especially to the allocation and arrange- 
ment of the spaces for British exhibitors. Among the 
latter was his brother, who showed on a large scale the fire 
alarm system already widely adopted in London and else- 
where, together with other of their joint inventions, for 
which a gold medal was awarded by the International 
Jury. The British Electric Light Company with which 
Sir Charles and his brother were, as already shown, closely 
associated also had an extensive exhibit of Gramme 
machines, Brockie arc lights, and Lane-Fox incandescent 
lamps, which illuminated part of the Exhibition. The 
latter work was ably carried out by their engineer, Mr. 
Radcliffe Ward, who has more recently taken an active 
part in the introduction of electro-motor omnibuses and 
vehicles in London. 

Subsequently, a paper concerning the Exhibition was 
read by Sir Charles and Professor Hughes before the Society 
of Telegraph Engineers. 1 

His many friends in French official circles, coupled with 
his unvarying urbanity, served to render Sir Charles very 
popular in Paris as a British Commissioner. 

An International Congress consisting of about 200 of 
the most distinguished electrical savants of Europe, each 
nominated by their respective Governments also held a 
series of meetings and discussions in a special congress 
room at the Exhibition. Bright was naturally amongst 

" The Paris International Exhibition of Electricity," 1881, by Sir 
Charles Bright, M.Inst.C.E. and Professor D. E. Hughes, F.R.S. 
See Journal Inst. E.E., vol. x, p. 402. 


the delegates for the United Kingdom. Many important 
questions were discussed and dealt with, including various 
points of international electrical measures and nomen- 

During the period of the Exhibition the Prince of Wales 
now His Majesty the King paid it a visit, and on this 
occasion Sir Charles conducted His Royal Highness over. 
This honour Bright had previously enjoyed during the 
manufacture of the First Atlantic Cable a fact which the 
Prince had, as is his wont, kept fresh in his memory. 

The French Government recognised the services of Sir 
Charles and his three colleagues by making them officers 
of the Legion of Honour. 

About this time the Societe Internationale des Electriciens 
came into existence, and Sir Charles had the honour of 
becoming the first President, representing Great Britain. 



The Institution of Electrical Engineers 

\ T the end of 1886 Sir Charles was elected President of 
'** the Society of Electrical Engineers and Electricians 1 
for the Jubilee Year (1887) of Her Majesty's reign. 

As President, Sir Charles gave the usual inaugural address 
at the commencement of the session. Being also the Jubilee 
of the Electric Telegraph, he chose as his subject the initia- 
tion and progress of Electric Telegraphs (land and sub- 
marine) up to date, bringing forward some noteworthy 
episodes. 2 

Speaking of this address and of his presidency, the 
Electrical Review remarked : 

The election of Sir Charles Bright on the occasion of the Jubilee 
year of the Telegraph, as well as in the Jubilee year of the Queen, 
may be taken as a special compliment to one who has worked 
so hard to promote the interests of telegraphy. So identified 
has been his career with the step-by-step progress of the telegraph 
that it would have been impossible to avoid mentioning the part 

1 Since incorporated as the Institution of Electrical Engineers. 

2 Sir Charles' Presidential Address was reproduced in full in 
Appendix 25 of Vol. II of the original biography ; and also, of course, 
in the Journal of the Institution in 1887. 



he personally played in the advancement of the science, without 
creating a number of serious blanks in the story. Sir Charles' 
address will long be remembered for its early recollections and 
history of telegraphy. It is, in fact, imbued with all the force 
and character of an autobiography. 

Leading articles concerning Sir Charles' address also 
appeared in The Times, Standard and other journals the 
following morning. 

In the capacity of President, again, Sir Charles and Lady 
Bright received the Institution at a soiree on December I5th, 
at Prince's Hall, Piccadilly, at which a large and dis- 
tinguished assembly were present. 

During his presidential year, many papers of great 
interest were read, but the one which Sir Charles naturally 
took special interest in was that of his former pupil, Mr. 
Edward Stallibrass, A.M.Inst.C.E., on " Deep Sea Sound- 
ing in Connection with Submarine Telegraphy." 

Sir Charles had scarcely completed the period of presi- 
dency when his untimely and sudden death occurred. 

On the occasion of his funeral, the Council of the Society 
attended in full force. 

The President, who followed, was an old friend of Sir 
Charles' from the earliest telegraph days the late Mr. 
Edward Graves, Chief Engineer of H.M. Post Office. At 
the first meeting of the Society after Sir Charles' death, Mr. 
Graves commenced the proceedings by moving the following 
resolution : 

" That an expression of our deep regret for his loss and our 
sincere sympathy with Lady Bright and the members of Sir 
Charles Bright's family in their bereavement be agreed to ; and 


that the Secretary be instructed to convey an expression of the 
same to Lady Bright." 

This followed on some remarks of the President, in which 
he said, inter alia : 

" Sir Charles Bright, our immediate Past-President, was known 
to every one by the reputation he early acquired in connection 
with the spanning of the Atlantic Ocean by a submarine cable, 
and by proving that there was no limit of distance, or depth, to 
the success of submarine telegraphy. I will not attempt to 
deal with all his other great works. In him we lose not only 
a member of great eminence, whose name will be for ever 
associated with some of the greatest achievements of Electrical 
Engineering, but those who were personally acquainted with 
him, as I was for more than thirty years, lose also a genial 
and kind-hearted friend." 

In the following year Sir William Thomson (afterwards 
Lord Kelvin) became President ; and in opening the 
proceedings, he took occasion to make a special allusion 
to his former shipmate. Again, at the first annual dinner 
of the Institution in the same year, Sir William Thomson 
(President), in responding to the toast of the evening 
' The Institution " proposed by Lord Salisbury, began by 
paying a warm tribute to Sir Charles' work. 

Yet again, as a further tribute, on taking the presiden- 
tial chair in 1897, Sir Henry Mance, C.I.E., M.Inst.C.E., 
remarked in his address : " If we, as engineers, desire 
to do honour to any one individual who pre-eminently 
distinguished himself in the development of oceanic tele- 
graphy, we have simply to refer to the list of our Past 
Presidents, and select the name of Charles Tilston Bright." 


Colleagues and Pupils 

man could carry out such arduous and great works 
as were undertaken by Sir Charles Bright without 
able assistance, and in selecting his associates and assistants, 
Sir Charles evinced throughout his knowledge, not only of 
antecedents, but of character. Further, amongst all 
those who worked with him on the Atlantic, in the East 
or West Indies, in this country or elsewhere he always 
established and maintained a thorough esprit dc corps and 
good feeling, that led to the happiest results. 

Generally speaking, his coadjutors were men of mark ; 
and the pupils which he occasionally received, have, as a 
rule, made names for themselves in the engineering and 
scientific world. Most of these have been referred to, as 
occasion arose, in the course of this memoir. 

In only one instance did Sir Charles despair of a pupil, 
and the case was peculiar. The young fellow was well 
trained, and the grandson of a great legal luminary. He 
had mostly lived in the country, and was an amateur 
about bees. He used to bring bars of honey to the office, 
and the dear little insect filled his head so entirely that 



no electricity could be got into it ; in fact he really had " a 
bee in his bonnet," and the arrangement with him had 
to be cancelled. Subsequently making his way to the 
Antipodes, he got together heaps of hives, and has done well 
ever since in the bee line, at any rate. 




ROM the outset both Charles Bright and his brother 
interested themselves greatly in the Volunteer move- 
ment; and very shortly after Government authorised the 
formation of corps during the French scare of 1859 Sir 
Charles raised a company from the officers and employes 
of the Magnetic Company in London. His brother Edward 
did the same at Liverpool, and both received commissions as 

It was necessary that isolated companies should form 
part of a battalion, so Bright joined the 7th Surrey Regi- 
ment, which had started a little before under the command 
of Colonel Beresford, M.P. 

Though for many years afterwards Sir Charles attended 
Volunteer gatherings of one description or another, he 
became too much occupied to take an active part in the 
drilling, parading, shooting, etc., and eventually had to 
resign when going out to lay the cables in the Persian 

His brother raised a second company in Liverpool, and 
was promoted to Captain-Commandant. 




FROM an early period in his life Sir Charles interested 
himself in Freemasonry. Both he and Edward 
Bright joined the craft in 1854, entering the Cambermere 
Lodge of Cheshire on the same day. 

In later times he filled the position of Master in the Bard 
of Avon and other Lodges. He also passed through the 
Chair of several Arch Chapters, as well as in Mark Masonry. 

Then, again, Sir Charles was for a considerable time the 
Deputy Grand Master for Middlesex, of which the late 
Colonel Sir Francis Burdett, Bart., was Grand Master. 

Moreover, he was a member of the " Prince of Wales " 
Lodge, of which H.R.H. is permanent Master. 

Finally, he was a founder of the " Quadratic " Lodge 
at Hampton Court, of which he became Master ; the 
" Saye and Sele " Lodge at Belvidere ; and the " Electric " 
Lodge. Of the latter his brother was the first Master, 
followed by Bro. W. H. Preece, 1 and by the late Mr. 
Edward Graves, at that time engineer to the Postal Tele- 
graphs. The latter Lodge was, in fact as may be imagined 
constituted for members of the electrical profession. 

1 Now Sir W. H. Preece, K.C.B. 



As an instance of the esteem in which the subject of this 
memoir was held by his brother Masons, we may mention 
that his name was adopted as the title of the Sir Charles 
Bright Lodge at Teddington. Of this he was the first 


Home Life and Recreations 

TN his domestic relations the subject of this biography 
had his share of happiness, as well as the reverse. 
Let us confine ourselves to the former. 

As we have seen, at the early age of twenty he married 
Miss Hannah Barrick Taylor, fourth daughter of the late 
John Taylor, of an old Yorkshire family (originally hailing 
from Treeton) who had been previously connected by 
marriage with the Brights. Lady Bright survives Sir Charles. 

In 1877, Sir Charles' eldest daughter, Agnes, married 
Mr. Mervyn Kersteman King, son of Mr. William Poole 
King, of Avonside, Clifton Down, formerly High Sheriff 
of Bristol, and head of one of the leading Bristol ship- 
owning firms. 1 

The second daughter (Mary) married Mr. David Jardine 

1 To the deep grief of all her relations and indeed of all who 
knew her intimately this daughter died of scarlet fever, in 1894, 
leaving a son and daughter. The son, named after Sir Charles, is 
probably the only instance of a boy who (when leaving Eton for 
Cambridge) was 6 ft. 4 in. at the age of seventeen. In this he more 
than took after his grandfather, for Sir Charles stood a little over 
6 feet. He later joined the Coldstream Guards, and quite recently 
married Lady Clare Noel, daughter of the Earl of Gainsborough. 


Jardine, now of Jardine and other Dumfries-shire estates, 
son of the late James Jardine, and nephew of Sir Robert 
Jardine, Bart, M.P. 

The latter marriage was solemnised at St. Paul's, Knights- 
bridge, on January I4th, 1886, Bright giving away his 

A few months later owing to heavy pecuniary losses 
the family removed from Bolton Gardens, South Kensing- 
ton, to a smaller house in Philbeach Gardens, a little further 

The following year, on the occasion of the Queen's Jubilee, 
Sir Charles and his wife were amongst those present at the 
service in Westminster Abbey. This was the last occasion 
on which they appeared in public together. 

Let us now, finally, say a few words regarding Bright's 
social enjoyments. The subject of our biography was not, 
at any time in his life, what would be called a " Society " 
man. His profession always kept him fully occupied ; and as 
regards entertaining, his tastes ran rather in the direction 
of small and quiet parties of real friends, than of entertaining 
a roomful of mere acquaintances. 

Shooting and Fishing 

Although Sir Charles adhered, as a rule, to the adage he 
had adopted and often quoted through life, of " nulla dies 
sine linea," yet he liked " a day off " occasionally ; and 
thoroughly enjoyed relaxation from work in shooting and 
fishing particularly the former. He had been brought up 


to both from boyhood, and in the sixties he joined with his 
friends, Mr. Edwin Clark, C.E., in a lovely shooting manor, 
Bought on Court, near Maidstone, where game was plenti- 
ful, coupled with good pike and perch in a mere on the 
estate. It was one of his hobbies to be up early and get a 
bit of fishing before the shoot in fact before breakfast 
began 1 ; and on such occasions his maxim of " nulla dies 
sine linea " was applied to the fishing-line. 

It was rather an awkward country to shoot over in 
September (though hilly and beautiful), owing to various hop 
gardens and the many hop-pickers on the manor ; and 
an instance occurred when the sport was somewhat marred 
by one of his guests peppering both a schoolmaster and a 
hop-picker in the course of the same day. The friend 
was a fair, but greedy, shot, and wouldn't wait for the birds 
to rise properly. 

Later on, he had some very pleasant days of sport near 
Horsham with his friend Sir Richard Glass (who made 
half of the first Atlantic Cable) and others. Still later, with 
his son-in-law, Mr. Mervyn King, at Kingsnympton Park, 
near South Molton and Chulmleigh, North Devon. 

Sir Charles was also wont to shoot with an old school- 

1 Bright was always an early riser. When not employed as above 
it was a custom with him at daybreak to sketch out ideas on a slate 
kept at hand. 

Thus, he got through a good deal from 6 o'clock till breakfast time. 
He similarly occupied his spare moments when on holiday as well 
as at his office ; and thus his slate saw the gradual evolution of 
many an invention. 


fellow, dipt. Cosby Lovett, at Combe Park, near Leighton 
Buzzard, in Bedfordshire. 

Some of his most enjoyable shooting days were, however, 
spent with another school-fellow, John Stallibrass, the 
squire of Eastwoodbury and Thorpe Hall, near Rochford. 
A part of Mr. Stallibrass' domains extended to Foulness 
Island off the Essex coast. Once there, the game was 
also there ; for the furry portion, at all events, couldn't 
go to sea, and the partridges didn't like to. The high sea 
embankments, grown over with scrub, formed capital 
shooting ground after the birds had been driven to them. 
For lunch, the squire's lessees of the famous oyster beds 
in the inlets used to provide a hamper of fresh oysters at 
one of the farm-houses. 

Some of the best sport Bright ever experienced was 
when he took over the Harleyford shooting from Sir William 
Clayton, Bart., in 1874. The shoot extended from close to 
Great Marlow up to Medmenham, and a long way inland from 
the Thames, covering over 2,000 acres, with a large amount 
of woods, coming down to the chalk cliffs above the river. 
A number of pheasants had to be bred each year to keep 
up the supply ; but of hares, partridges and " bunnies " 
there were plenty. Sir Charles' rule was to shoot at inter- 
vals with small parties his brother and two or three other 
guns. Those who came oftenest and stayed longest were, 
perhaps, the late Count Gleichen, 1 Mr. E. B. Webb, Mr. 

1 Afterwards Admiral H.S.H. Prince Victor of Hohenlohe- 
Langenburg, G.C.B. cousin to our late Queen. 


Edwin Clark, Mr. Latimer Clark and Mr. Robert Fowler. 1 
The object was never a big battue, but a varied and reasonable 
day's sport. 

Sir Charles revisited Marlow and that part of the river 
more than once. He was always very popular there, 2 and 
was at one time asked to stand for the borough. This, how- 
ever, he did not see his way to do. 


Though, perhaps, the most important moments of his 
active life were spent at sea, in a way that had many of 
the advantages of yachting, Bright was seldom able 
to revel in any lengthy cruises solely on pleasure bent. 

He, however, frequently allowed himself a few days' trip 
at sea after a manner that was so near his heart. 

Captain Cosby Lovett was his usual host on these occasions. 
Captain Lovett 's wholesome sea-going yacht Constance 
(200 tons) was quartered at Southampton ; and from here 
these two old friends would go out for a sail along the 
South Coast and even further afield at short notice, when 
Sir Charles' professional engagements permitted of it. Some 
sea-fishing also formed a part of the programme as a rule, 
but both were greatly interested in all the intricacies of 
yacht -sailing for its own sake alone. They were, in fact, 
yachtsmen in the strictest sense. 

1 Mr. Fowler was a partner in the firm of Hargrove, Fowler & 
Blunt, Sir Charles' solicitors. He was also a brother of Sir John 
Fowler, Bart., K.C.M.G., LL.D. 

2 Even now, his portrait may be seen hanging on the walls of the 
Complete Angler Hotel. 


Another friend with whom Sir Charles used to go yachting 
occasionally was Mr. J. B. Saunders, of Taunton, with 
yachting headquarters at Teignmouth. Mr. Saunders' 
yacht was the Pixie, and in her they had pleasant cruises 
to the Channel Isles, Falmouth, the Isle of Wight, etc. 
Mr. Saunders a most genial host was originally an old 
telegraph acquaintance in the Electric Telegraph Company. 
In later days he contracted for the telegraph work of some 
of the railways in South Wales. 

River Sailing. From early boyhood Bright had been 
devoted to the river, as we have already seen. Thus when 
at Mario w some of the time was spent in sailing as well 
as rowing. 

The " Beatrice " Parties. Sir Charles' steam launch 
Beatrice l which has already been referred to in the chapter 
on the West India cables was for a time kept on the lower 
reaches of the river. She was occasionally used for excur- 
sions up river, and has witnessed more than one Oxford and 
Cambridge Boat Race, with a festive party on board. 

Tours and Picnics 

When in the country or at the sea-side, Bright used 
sometimes to make up driving and riding parties ; and 
when once staying at Eastbourne, Mr. Karl Siemens and his 
charming daughters joined Sir Charles and his family in 
some of these. 

1 Named after his youngest daughter. 


The most extended tour in which he took part was, 
however, a month's picnic of an entirely novel character, 
during August, 1876. This charming novelty of absolute 
freedom from work, coupled with pleasurable excitement, 
came about from what might be termed an inspiration on 
the part of an old friend that fairly eclipsed any " happy 
thought " that ever shone in the luminous pages of Mr. 
Punch. It is especially interesting now, in view of the 
hold motoring has since taken upon us. 

The idea occurred to the fertile brain of Mr. James Caird, 
of Dundee, to invite some friends of both sexes to a peripatetic 
picnic in a special Pullman car train. The ingredients of 
the party were like plum pudding varied but pleasant. 
Besides the host, his wife and sister, there were Mr. Frederick 
Leyland, of steamship renown, with Mrs. Leyland, their 
son, and two daughters ; Captain Herbert Marryat related 
to the famous nautical author represented the military 
contingent ; then Art had her exponent in the late Mr. 
Phil Morris, R.A. 1 ; Music in Mr. Horace Jee ; while Science 
claimed Sir Charles, whose eldest daughter Agnes accom- 
panied him. Mr. Shenstone Roberts, the genial representa- 
tive of Messrs. Pullman in this country, with his wife, was 
also there. Finally the party was completed by Mr. 
Edward Bright, who took upon himself to preserve some 
sort of account 2 of any interesting incidents during this 
" voyage on wheels " in and about the most delightful 

1 For a short time also the late Sir John Millais a connection 
of Mr. Caird's was one of the party. 

1 This was afterwards reproduced in the Daily News, which also 
gave a " leader " on the subject. 


scenery of England and Scotland, intermingled with a 
little shooting and fishing. 

The programme was to start from London in a special 
train, with servants, supplies, sleeping quarters, and enter- 
taining rooms, so as to be as independent of hotels as the 
dwellers in a caravan. This holiday trip was to include 
calls upon friends here and there, and visits to a number 
of the most interesting and beautiful places in our island- 
staying a day or so here and there, wherever there proved 
to be the greatest attraction. 

It was understood from the first that nobody was to 
enquire too curiously of their entertainer as to where 
the expedition was next going ; and Mr. Caird so 
arranged everything, that each day's excursion proved 
a pleasant surprise to his friends during the month's 

The freedom of promenading throughout the cars a 
distance of 120 feet and the comfort of all the appliances 
for resting and amusement, prevented any tedium being 
experienced. Between the cars were roomy railed plat- 
forms, upon which members of the party often sat cosily 
upon camp stools for pleasant chats, while enjoying both the 
fresh air and charming views passed through particularly 
in Derbyshire and the Highlands. 

The saloon was so full of windows from one end to the 
other that unimpeded views could be had of the scenery 
throughout, and through many districts especially on 
the Highland Railway and its branches the train went at a 
purposely low speed in order that the beauties of the country 

around might be enjoyed leisurely. 

F F 


A very able American " conductor " took charge of the 
Pullman cars he was so well accustomed to, and greatly 
contributed to the comfort of the company. Being a good 
fisherman he now and again caught a creel of trout before 
breakfast. Then there was Sir Charles' old valet, Field, with 
another, and a ladies' maid. 

The Railway Companies proved most considerate, and 
gave special time bills throughout. 

The start was made from St. Pancras on July soth, the 
train proceeding first to Bristol and Clifton to interview some 
friends. Thence to Bath and Cheltenham, where the 
" waters " were " sampled." 

Next on to Worcester, where, after admiring the Cathedral 
the party pottered about the Potteries, and left for Derby- 
shire, where Chatsworth, Haddon Hall, Matlock and Buxton 
were visited. 

Onward by the new Settle and Carlisle route, through 
the beautiful Eden Valley, they were passed forward to the 
North British system. Making a halt at Melrose, they 
visited Abbotsford, Dryburgh Abbey, and the tweed factories 
at Galashiels. 

At Edinburgh, they went to Rosslyn Castle and Abbey, 
etc., and thence their wanderings extended to the Highlands, 
via Perth, after having the cars safely ferried over the Firth 
of Forth to Burntisland. 

The party then wended their way to the west, making 
some stay amid the wild mountainous scenery of Loch 
Carron, at Strome Ferry and Plocktown. A flying visit 
to the Isle of Skye was thought of, but accommodation 
could not be arranged for so large a number. Mr. Caird 


had provided carriages at the railway siding, so delightful 
drives were made to Loch Maree and Gairloch. 

They next passed onward to Thurso, where all is slate 
and paving-stone. One old dame here passed her opinion 
very audibly on the platform : " Hech, eets jeest a gatherin' 
o' strollin' players, ye ken ! " 

The train was then sent back round the Wick, while the 
party drove to John o' Groats and had a great hunt on the 
shore for the famous " buckle " shells. The next move 
was on to Barrogill Castle at the invitation of the Earl of 
Caithness, who entertained the party with much hospitality. 
Besides knowing Mr. Caird, he had met Sir Charles in Cuba, 
where the Countess formerly Countess di Pomar had 
large estates. She believed in spiritualism, and that she 
belonged to the " Inner Circle " whatever that might 
portend. She once told Sir Charles of an interview she 
had one night with the wraith of Mary, Queen of Scots, 
in the ruined chapel, when staying at Holyrood Castle. 

Returning from this northernmost part of the " Land o' 
Cakes," a pause was made at Wick to see the herring fleet 
of about 800 vessels crowding out of harbour on a sunny 
afternoon with their variously-coloured sails a scene of 
which Mr. Morris made some interesting sketches. The 
next morning their return was witnessed laden to the 
gunwale with the silvery prey, afterwards to be shovelled 
out by stalwart fishermen standing amongst the fish up to 
their thighs. 

Once when the train was passing over one of the less 
frequented lines, some of the ladies were initiated into the 
mysteries of stoking and driving on the engine, at which 


they proved themselves adepts especially in whistling. 
With regard to the latter one of them afterwards remarked : 
" We pulled away at all the handles we could get hold of, and 
were not a bit nervous ! " 

The curiosity of the people in many places was very 
great, and sometimes the crowd at the railway stations 
made it difficult to get in and out. Dinner-time in the 
cars proved an especial attraction to the outsiders as 
at the Zoo ; and at Wick a vast number of herring-scales 
were left adhering to the windows as a reminiscence of the 
faces and ringers of the admiring multitude. 

On the way south the expedition pulled up at Dunrobin, 
having been invited by the Duke of Sutherland to visit 

the Castle. 


Next succeeded a visit to Sir Alexander Matheson, Bart., 
at his beautiful seat, Ardross Castle. Here, again, the 
party were most hospitably entertained. Near by, there 
were moors all round belonging for many miles to our host, 
who, however, being somewhat elderly, did not care to shoot 
while Lady Matheson's principles were opposed generally 
to anything being killed. These principles she lived up 
to, for she did not eat fish, flesh, or fowl. However, when 
out in the grounds after lunch, Sir Alexander said there were 
a couple of guns and a brace of dogs if any cared for a pretty 
stroll and a bit of shooting. Sir Charles and Captain 
Marryat elected to go ; and on taking leave, Lady Matheson 
characteristically wished them a " very pleasant walk- 
but ' long life' to the grouse!" 

A different route was chosen for the return of the Pullman 


expedition ; and Lochs Lomond, Long, and Fyne were 
successively visited by using the steamers from Balloch 
and Helensburgh. 

The party finally made their way to London, via Glasgow 
and Dumfries. 

On the lines in the North of Scotland it was found that 
the cars were too lofty to pass under the bridges, but some 
navvies who were sent forward accompanied by Sir 
Charles and the assistant engineer of the railway obviated 
the difficulty by scraping away the ballast from under 
the sleepers, and so lowering the permanent way a few 
inches where necessary. One of the bridges proved, how- 
ever, such a close shave that it cut off the tops of some 
of the ventilators. 

At several points the party were taken for Americans, 
the tune of " Yankee Doodle " being expressly played 
for their benefit by a band at one station, while at Buxton 
a flower girl, on getting but a shake of the head when 
proffering her bunches, remarked : " It's no use talking 
to them ; they'ar Americans, and don't speak English ! " 
At Edinburgh a gudewife's verdict upon one of the cars was, 
" Weel, it's just a gingerbread-looking thing ! " 

The weather was fine throughout, and no hitch whatever 
occurred to mar the trip. 

A delicious sensation of comfort and freedom was ex- 
perienced on reaching each fresh halting-place from the 
fact that no baggage had to be removed from the cars. 
Moreover, all were utterly independent of the thousand and 
one troubles connected, with hotel accommodation carry- 
ing their rooms, servants and provisions with them. There 


was also the feeling of thorough privacy which could never 
have been obtained for so many at the inns on the way. 
Practically such a party could not have travelled throughout 
the country from the West of England to John o' Groats 
by any other means ; as at many of the most interesting 
localities where a stay was made, beds and sometimes pro- 
visions for such a number eighteen all told would not have 
been procurable. The idea of " home " in connection with 
the cars grew stronger every day of the journey ; and on 
returning after drives, walks, rowing or fishing expeditions 
to the railway siding where their travelling houses were 
temporarily bestowed every one felt as if going to a most 
pleasant rendezvous. 

The company started out for a fortnight's trip ; but it 
was at once so novel and so delightful that it was extended 
to a month, and terminated to the regret of all concerned. 
It constituted a kind of yachting voyage on land, with- 
out the accompaniment of baffling winds or topsy-turvy 

Club Reminiscences 

Sir Charles was an eminently " clubable " man full of 
varied information, an accomplished raconteur, and always 
most genial. He was a member of the Reform Club, where 
he frequently enjoyed a game of billiards with his namesake, 
the late Right Hon. John Bright, and other friends. He also 
belonged to the Garrick, Whitehall, and Royal Thames 
Yacht Clubs. This last was his favourite resort for 
lunch and in the evening. Here he sat down to many a 


pleasant supper with professional friends, after meetings 
of the various Societies and Institutions to which he be- 

His taste for yachting had something to do with this 
preference for the club in Albemarle Street. For a number 
of years he was on the Council and Committee, whilst his 
brother acted as auditor. 

Sir Charles seldom missed the annual Thames Yacht 
Races. On these occasions he used to make up a party 
for the Club steamer. 

When once Bright took to any one he stuck to him ; 
and his most frequent guests at the Races were, perhaps, 
the late Count Gleichen (Prince Victor of Hohenlohe-Langen- 
burg), Baron Gudin, Messrs. E. B. Webb, Rudolph Glover 
of the War Office, Charles Dibdin of the Admiralty, W. H. 
Preece, and George Forbes beside various wives, sisters, 
and daughters of these and others. 

The Thames Yacht Club was always an eminently sociable 
resort a large proportion of the members knowing one 
another in yachting circles. 

In 1875, Count Gleichen executed a marble bust of his 
friend. This proved a capital likeness, beside being a 
most artistic piece of work, as may be seen from the repro- 
duction here given. It was duly exhibited in the Royal 
Academy of that year and was much admired as a faithful 
and life-like portrait. Plaster duplicates were made ; one 
of these was presented to the Institution of Civil Engineers, 
whilst another is in the library of the Institution of Electrical 

Executed by Prince Victor of Hohenlohe-Langenburg 



Death and Funeral 

Slowly, slowly up the wall 
Steals the sunshine, steals the shade ; 
Evening damps begin to fall, 
Evening shadows are displayed. 
Darker, darker and more wan 
In my breast the shadows fall ; 
Upward steals the life of man, 
As the sunshine from the wall, 
From the wall into the sky, 
From the roof along the spire ; 
Ah, the souls of those that die 
Are but sunbeams lifted higher ! 


OIR CHARLES never really got over the severe attack 
^ of malarious fever, to which he nearly succumbed 
when laying the West India Cables ; and which were recur- 
rent every now and then long after his return to England. 

He had been in failing health for some time. This was 
largely owing to various worries and the need of an entire 
rest from work. 1 

His comparatively sudden death occurred at early 

1 Edison is said to have told a friend : " Don't worry, but work 
hard, and you can look forward to a reasonably lengthy existence." 
Sir Charles, unfortunately, had to worry as well as work. 




morn on Thursday, May 3rd, 1888, from failure of the heart, 
while on a visit to his brother, near Abbey Wood, in Kent. 
The obituary notices and leading articles in the various 
newspapers which appeared on this occasion with regard 
to Sir Charles, were given in the last Appendix of the original 
biography, as well as the references to his funeral from The 
Times, Morning Post, Pall Mall Gazette, St. James' Gazette, 
Globe, etc. 1 The technical press, however, naturally pro- 
vided the most detailed particulars ; and the concluding 
words of the Electrical Review obituary notice of May nth, 
1888, may be suitably quoted here : 

We have endeavoured to give a summary of the life of the 
late Sir Charles Bright a life spent from its early beginning 
with the creation of the electric telegraph pointing out some 
of the important works he was engaged in, some of the improve- 
ments he had introduced and originated, and showing at the 
same time the type and character of the man, who could so 
readily and easily devise, undertake, and carry out such works. 

He leaves behind him many of his old friends and fellow-workers 
to grieve and mourn his loss, but he also leaves behind a monu- 
ment of lasting fame. The works he has accomplished bear 
evidence for all time of his skilful handiwork, his intuitive know- 
ledge and unerring judgment ; and as the great fabric of the 
modern telegraph system rises and spreads throughout the 
world, its foundations and superstructure bear evidence of the 
vital part played by Sir Charles Bright in their construction and 
formation. We may, indeed, safely assume that so long as 
the broad Atlantic, separated by its broad expanse of water 

1 The week after his death, the Illustrated London News, Graphic, 
The Engineer, and other journals also contained good portraits of 
Sir Charles. 


from this country, carries at its utmost depths the electric con- 
necting chain of communication, so long will the name of the 
Atlantic and its first cable be connected with that of Charles 
Tilston Bright. 

The funeral took place on the following Monday (May 7th) . 
To quote further from the Electrical Review with reference 
to this : 

The service was conducted at St. Cuthbert's, Philbeach 
Gardens (opposite Sir Charles' residence), South Kensington, 
and the burial in Chiswick churchyard, where the family vault 
was situated, 1 and near which the family used to live. 

Besides the relatives of the deceased, a large and distinguished 
gathering of friends attended to pay their last tribute of esteem 
and affection though no one was actually bidden. 2 Among 
those present were : His Serene Highness Prince Victor of 
Hohenlohe-Langenburg, G.C.B. ; Sir Francis Burdett, Bart. ; 
Sir David Salomons, Bart., nephew of the late Sir D. Salomons, 
who sat with Sir Charles as member for Greenwich for several 
years ; Sir Robert Jardine, Bart, M.P. ; Sir F. Goldsmid, K.C.S.I., 
C.B. ; Mr. William Lindsay and Lady Harriet Lindsay; Lady 
Smart ; Mr. Phil Morris, R.A. ; Mr. Linley Sambourne, of 
Punch ; Sir William Thomson, LL.D., F.R.S., 3 Sir Samuel 
Canning, M.Inst.C.E., and Mr. Henry Clifford the last three 
his fellow-shipmates and pioneers on H.M.S. Agamemnon in the 
first Atlantic cable expedition. 

1 Here his wife's mother had been buried in 1871, and again, his 
wife's brother was interred here in 1884. For both of these, who 
had predeceased him, Sir Charles had always a strong affection, 
and the latter Robert John Taylor had probably been his best 
friend through life. 

2 The only intimation of the funeral was given through the news- 

3 Afterwards Lord Kelvin, O.M., G.C.V.O. 


Amongst his professional friends were also Mr. Latimer Clark, 
F.R.S., M.Inst.C.E., for several years his partner ; from the 
Post Office, Mr. E. Graves, and Mr. W. H. Preece, F.R.S., 
M.Inst. C.E., 1 associated with him from the days of early tele- 
graphy, Prof. D. E. Hughes, F.R.S. (a fellow Government 
Commissioner with Sir Charles at the Paris Exhibition) ; Mr. F. C. 
Webb, M.Inst.C.E. (for some time on his staff) ; Mr. H. C. 
Forde, M.Inst.C.E. (a previous partner); Mr. John Muirhead, 
M. Inst.C.E. ; Mr. F. H. Webb, Mr. R. Collett, and Mr. E. Stalli- 
brass. Amongst those who were out on Sir Charles' last and 
most trying cable expeditions in the West Indies of 1869-72 
were Mr. R. Kaye Gray, M.Inst.C.E., Mr. E. March Webb, Mr. 
H. Benest, and Mr. James Stoddart all of the Silvertown 

The Council of the Society of Telegraph Engineers (of which 
Sir Charles was last year President for the Telegraph Jubilee) 
were present, and the Royal Astronomical, Geological, and 
Geographical Societies had sent officials to represent them. 

The Institution of Civil Engineers was represented by its 
Secretary, Mr. James Forrest, who was also a personal friend 
of Sir Charles. To all of these bodies Sir Charles belonged very 
early in life. 

Most of his pupils, past and present, were also there, and 
amongst the many wreaths one was placed on the coffin by them. 
Some of Sir Charles' old mechanics and servants in his different 
undertakings also attended. 

Though choral, neither service was of an elaborate char- 
acter. At St. Cuthbert's, the hymn selected for singing 
was " Rock of Ages " (a favourite hymn), whilst at the grave 
it was " Now the labourer's task is o'er/' 

On the churchyard being reached, the funeral service was 
read by the Vicar of Chiswick, the Rev. Lawford Dale, M.A. 

1 Now Sir William Preece, K.C.B. 


an old schoolfellow of Sir Charles', who had rowed in the 
same " eight " with him. 

The inscription on the coffin was merely : 

Cbarles Gileton Bright 

Born, June 8tb, 1832 
, 1888 



IN attempting to summarise Sir Charles Bright's careei 
in the course of a few concluding words, the question 
at once presents itself whether to characterise him as a 
great inventor, as an eminent engineer, or as a man of 
affairs. He was prominent in each of these respects a 
rare combination in any single individual. 

His numerous arid largely used inventions have been 
briefly dealt with here. 1 Throughout life a note-book was 
in his pocket, in which almost daily he sketched ideas 
forming the embryos of many inventions. 2 In telegraphic 
and submarine cable work of which he has been rightly 
characterised as the pioneer these are still indispensable ; 
for without them long cables could scarcely be laid or worked 
even at the present time. In electric lighting, again, he 
helped as we have seen to point the way, besides devising 
several important improvements. Telephony also owes 
something to him. Electric traction was not sufficiently 
within the realm of practical progress at that time for Sir 
Charles to turn his attention to it ; but this was the only 
branch of electrical engineering and applied science to which 
he had not devoted his energies at one time or another. 

1 They are all dealt witli further in the Appendix. 

2 Q uite a collection of these small note-books have been preserved . 



In everything he undertook there were the same charac- 
teristics evinced of profound practical thought in the initia- 
tion of each enterprise, coupled with untiring energy and 
dauntless pluck in carrying them to a successful issue. 

Besides these qualities, he was always courteous and genial 
in his bearing towards his staff and those with whom he 
had to deal. 

As we have seen, Bright's life was a life fraught through- 
out with danger and anxiety. In his various undertakings 
he was calm under adversity, brave in emergencies that 
would have caused many to quail. Greater force of charac- 
ter is perhaps required by a submarine telegraph engineer 
than by any other engineer whose work is practically done 
when the designs are made, whereas the greater part of a 
telegraph engineer's difficulties occur in the laying and 
repairing of the line, and in unforeseen mishaps which are 
always liable to take place. Heavy weather, or a moment's 
error of judgment, have repeatedly ruined the whole work 
of an expedition. 

We will not prolong this summary by dwelling on his 
political and other services, but will conclude by quoting 
from the closing observations in a biographical sketch of 
Sir Charles, which appeared in the Electrical Engineer. The 
sentence runs thus : 

It will be seen that the work of Sir Charles Bright has been 
of a wide and varied character both in land and submarine 
telegraphy dating from the earliest days of the electric wire. 
Indeed, he may be said to have been a leader in the rise and 
progress of electrical industry. 


The same article went on to say : 

There are some men whose talents impress us more than any 
other of their merits, and stand out gaunt and bare like some pro- 
jecting cliff with nothing gentle to relieve the eye or mask the 
height. There are others in whom a keen intellect is sometimes 
veiled by geniality of manner, just as a rocky hillside may be over- 
hung with verdure. It is to this category that Sir Charles Bright 
belongs ; and though his past services may well command our 
admiration, the better part of our praise is that those who have 
had the pleasure of his acquaintance, love rather to remember 
the kind and sociable qualities of the man than the successes of 
the engineer. His attractive ways and well-known figure will 
be missed by many for some time to come. 

Though, for a professional man, Sir Charles did well 
pecuniarily at times, he died poor. 

May it not be said that whether a man ends well provided 
with this world's goods or otherwise is largely a matter of 
luck quite irrespective of genius, which is, of course, on the 
other hand, inborn. Apart from luck, however, there was 
a trait in Bright's character which would naturally conflict 
with his amassing a fortune and adhering to it. That 
trait was the taste for converting money into things which 
gave himself and his friends immediate pleasure : it may 
be summed up by the words hospitality and generosity. 

Furthermore, he seemed throughout to bear in mind that 

Life is mostly froth and bubble, 

Two things stand alone : 
Kindness in another's trouble, 

Courage in our own. 

Appendix l 


SHORTLY after their introduction to Electric Telegraphs in 1847, 
Charles Bright and his brother Edward when young fellows 
of seventeen and eighteen began to discuss weak points in the 
existing apparatus, and to work out improvements. But in those 
days a patent was an expensive luxury, for what with Mr. 
"Deputy Chaff Wax " who put the great seal on, eighteen inches 
round, and over an inch thick and the heavy fees, stamps, etc., 
coupled with the high charges of the patent agents for legal verbi- 
age and technical drawings, the cost mounted up to about 200 
down. There was then no distribution of fees over many years, 
as at present. But and this is an important " but " a large 
number of separate inventions and improvements relating to 
the same general subject, might at that period, be comprised 
and protected in a single patent. 

So the brothers continued piling up their ideas by sketches 
and descriptions in a locked " Inventions Book " till 1852, when 
they saw their way to taking out their first patent. This patent 
(E. B. and C. T. Bright, No. 14,331 , of October 2ist, 1852) embraced 
no less than twenty-four distinct inventions, illustrated by 
twenty-eight drawings, as described in fifteen specification pages. 
It became an historical one ; and it may fairly be said that few 
patents have contained so much variety, and so many novelties. 
The greater part came into active use, and a considerable pro- 
portion are still employed as the most satisfactory apparatus 
for the purposes for which they were designed. 

More than thirty years afterwards (July 2nd, 1883), the Electrical 

1 Inasmuch as the inventions of the subject of this memoir have 
only been referred to in part and then but briefly in the body 
of the book, it has been thought well to deal with them here in 
further detail, whilst giving illustrations and descriptions of those 
which have not formed part of the main narrative. 

449 GG 


Engineer thus described some of the principal inventions embodied 
in this patent of 1852 : 

1. The system of testing insulated conductors to localise faults 
from a distant point, by means of standard resistance coils in series 
of different values, brought into circuit successively by turning a 
connecting handle. A drawing in the patent specification repre- 
sents the best forms of resistance coil arrangement at present used 
in testing land and submarine telegraphs. 

2. In dividing coils into compartments, and in winding the 
wire so as to fill each compartment successively, and thus gain a 
greater determination of polarity. This system of winding coils 
was afterwards suggested in 1854 by Herr Poggendorf, subsequently 
by Herr Stohrer, of Leipsig, as well as by M. Foucault, and again 
by M. Ruhmkorff, vide Du Moncel's Applications de I'Electricite, 
vol. ii. pp. 241-243. 

3. The employment of a moveable coil pivoted on an axis, actu- 
ated by a fixed coil outside it. The one reacting upon the other, 
the same electrical current traverses both, for obtaining unvarying 
standards of power. This invention is similar to that now being 
brought forward by others as a novelty for electric lighting pur- 
poses. A differential method of testing with a standard galvano- 
meter also foreshadowed the differential galvanometer. 

4. The double roof shackle generally used at the present time 
for leading in wires over house telegraphs, telephones, electric 
light wires, and whenever great strains are involved by long spans. 
This was further improved in a patent of Sir C. Bright, No. 2601 of 
A.D. 1858. See also The Electric Telegraph, by Lardner and Bright. 

5. The now universal system of telegraph posts with varying 
lengths of arms, to avoid the chance of one wire dropping on another. 

6. The partial-vacuum lightning protector for guarding tele- 
graphic lines and apparatus. This has since been re-patented in 
various forms. 

7. A translator, or repeater, for relaying and re-transmitting 
electric currents of either kind in both directions on a single wire. 
This contrivance was used with great success by the Magnetic 
Telegraph Company, up to their purchase by Government in 1870, 
and was the first device of the kind in any country. 

8. The employment of a metallic riband for the protection of 
the insulated conductors of submarine, or subterranean, cables. 
This also has been recently re-invented and re-patented, and is 
found to be the best protection for the insulator, either on the 
sea bottom or underground. 

9. Another improvement was the production, in an automatic 
key, of a varying contact proportionate to the pressure exerted 
upon it, for adjusting the time length of change in testing or signal- 


ling. This was by means of mercury on the same principle as 
a sand-glass. 

Besides these, a new type printing instrument, a novel motfe 
of laying underground wires in troughs, and other telegraphic 
improvements, were included in this early patent of the Brights. 

In addition to the appliances referred to above, the first form 
of curb key for working long cables is given in this patent. 
Spring catches are made to slip over a cog of their respective 
catches and wheels by the movement of a key, lever, or handle. 
Alternate currents may thus be sent. When the apparatus is 
at rest, the sending coils are put on short circuit, and the line 
wire connected to earth. 

Again, another form of lightning protector here described, 
consists of two " condensers " in juxtaposition and garnished 
with points, and a third of fine wire brushes. 

Let us now consider " No. i " in the above digest of the 
Electrical Engineer the system of localising faults. This 
apparatus is still in constant use fifty-six years afterwards. 
The Electrical Review in its cbituary notice of Sir Charles 
characterises it as "a special system for testing insulated 
conductors, with the object of localising the distance of an earth, 
or contact from a station, by the use of a series of resistance coils 
mounted in a box. This is the first mention of resistance coils 
specially constructed of different values to be met with, and the 
credit of being the first to use this system of testing rests entirely 
with the late Sir Charles Bright." l The obituary notice of the 
Institution of Civil Engineers also speaks of the invention in a 
similar strain. 

The preceding was, it will be seen, a purely telegraphic patent. 
The brothers, however, also devised, between 1849 and 1851 : 

i . Feathering floats for paddle wheels ; also a feathering screw. 

2. Agricultural ploughs for mechanically shifting the lower 
half of the soil penetrated at the top. 

3. An improved lightning conductor for buildings. 

These were described and illustrated in the Mechanics' 

Magazine at the time. 

1 Electrical Review, vol. xxii. pp. 508-512. 


1 The next patent was dated September 1 7th, 1855, No. 2103, 
C. T. and E. B. Bright. It embraces seventeen further inven- 
tions, illustrated by eighteen figures described in thirteen pages 
of text. This joint patent of the Brights in 1855 is thus referred 
to in the Electrical Engineer of July 2nd, 1883 : 

" Up till the year 1854 the system of telegraphing by the 
movements right and left of a magnetic needle or needles was 
generally employed, and as the receiving operator had to watch 
the movements with his eyes, he had to dictate to an amanuensis 
seated by him. Apart from the cost of the second clerk, many 
errors arose from words of like sound, but unlike spelling and 
meaning being misunderstood by the writer, besides the strain 
on the eyes of the operator, which became fatigued, and thus 
added to the number of errors. To meet these objections, Sir 
Charles devised an acoustic telegraph (still very extensively 
used), giving a short and separate sound to the right or left of 
the receiving operator, corresponding to the movements of the 

"This system was rapidly extended over the' Magnetic ' lines, 
and resulted in a large saving of staff as the writing clerks 
were dispensed with and also in far greater accuracy, besides 
being the speediest apparatus of the non-recording class. It 
was later on successfully adopted by Sir Charles for working 
each cable between the various West Indian Islands. 

" Professor Morse, in his report on the French International 
Exhibition of 1867, notes the fact that ' this Bright's Bell System 
is the fastest manual telegraph.' The above apparatus has ever 
since been universally known as ' Bright's Bells.' It consists 
of three distinct parts, which were described in the Electrical 
Review of May nth, 1888, as follows : 

1. The apparatus for, and method of, transmitting signals. 

2. The receiving relay, which has the means of increasing its 
sensitiveness, and of protection from the effects of return currents. 

3. The ' Phonetic,' a sounding apparatus. This may be either 
used as a complete instrument, or applied in part to other tele- 
graph instruments now in use. The magnet, when acted upon 
by electro-magnetic coils, causes the axle to vibrate or deflect in 
one direction, thus sounding a bell by means of a hammer head 
on one arm, the subsequent reversal of the electric current causing 
a muffler on the other arm to stop the sound." 

1 Minutes of Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers, 
vol. xciii. 


This patent also included a very simple and effective method 
of 'duplex working almost the very first which was used success- 
fully on some of the Magnetic Company's wires, enabling signals 
in opposite directions to be made simultaneously. 1 It also 
covered the means for producing working currents from inducti'on 
coils, and a machine for producing continuous currents from 
secondary induction coils by the action of a quantity battery in 
the primary coils. 

As expressed in the obituary notice of the Institution of Civil 
Engineers : 

" It will be seen from an examination of these two early patents 
what a large practical and scientific field Charles Bright covered 
as the result of his experience and intuitive knowledge in addi- 
tion to his experimental investigation and foresight in the require- 
ments of telegraphic science. We might enter more fully into 
the details of these various inventions, but sufficient evidence 
has already been given of his wonderful insight into the mysteries 
of the profession in which he played so large a part." 2 

It is to be regretted that the specifications of these two patents 
are now out of print, for they are, perhaps, especially of interest, 
on account of the youth of the inventors at the time as well 
as owing to the extensive use of the inventions they refer to. 

Charles Bright next patented a series of improvements in 
apparatus for laying submarine cables (undej date April 8th, 
1857, No. 990), after becoming chief engineer to the Atlantic 
Telegraph Company at the age of twenty -four. It covered six 
separate inventions. In this patent, young Bright described 
the first cable dynamometer. He says : 

I cause the strain which the length of cable hanging ... be- 
tween the stern of the vessel and the bottom of the sea ... to 
be measured and indicated. . . . 

One method . . . consists in placing the axle of the stern wheel 
in bearings held back by springs which may be made to assume 

1 See Submarine Telegraphs, by Charles Bright, F.R.S.E. (Crosby, 
Lockwood & Son, 1898). 

2 Inst. C.E. Proc., vol. xciii. 


an angle in a line with the direction of the cable. Or I measure 
the tension of the cable by lateral pressure, or water or atmospheric 
pressure, and other suitable means may be adapted to the same 

The strain is indicated on a dial. The whole can be so constructed, 
that should the strain amount to more than it is considered safe to 
permit, a SELF-ACTING management slackens or RELEASES the brakes 
or other restraining agents of the machinery. 

Afterwards the full specification says : 

The first part of my invention consists in measuring and indica- 
ting the strain. . . . The machinery . . . becomes a compen- 
sating regulator . . . and consists in causing the strain when it 
has reached its "safety point" to act upon and release a brake, 
strap, or other retarding agent. When being so released, the cable 
will be free to run faster over the paying-out apparatus, and thereby 
prevent fracture. 

It is a pity that time (owing to the way Bright was hurried 
in order that the expedition should start in 1857) did not permit 
this ingenious apparatus to be then applied. The following 
year, however, a vertical dynamometer was adopted for the 
laying of the 1858 cable ; and in this the principle of the above 
invention was largely worked on. 

Here, also, was described and illustrated an automatic machine 
for the regular coiling and uncoiling of the cable in the holding 
vessel. This, though never brought into use, might very suitably 
under certain circumstances be adopted to the great saving of 
cable hands, and of trouble. In these days of strikes it might 
be well if such an apparatus were always at hand and in full 
view of the British workman ! 

The paying-out apparatus in this patent consisted of sheaves, 
" the grooves of which are so adapted to the figure and dimen- 
sions of the rope, as to grasp it firmly, at the same time that they 
preserve its conformation." 

Had this plan been more generally adopted, it would have 
saved many an open-sheathed cable of early days from being 
put out of shape by the pressure on the flat surface of the crdinary 

Another useful appliance was first set forth in the same specifi- 
cation as follows : 

To ascertain at all times the rate at which the vessel is going, I 
register its speed on deck by the rotations of a vane submerged 
in the sea (in the manner usual with what is known as the patent 
log) being electrically communicated through a wire, or wires, 


contained in the cord by which the vane is sustained to an indica- 
ting instrument on deck ; and I show the rate of the cable upon 
a dial by toothed wheels acting upon the axle of one of the sheaves 
on the stern wheel. The total distance passed over by the vessel, 
and the total lengths of cable delivered into the sea, are also indicated 
by these registers. 

This ingenious arrangement was particularly referred to in 
the descriptive pamphlet issued by the Atlantic directors in 
1857 1 ; and was used on the ships of that year's expedition, as 
well as on the successful one of 1858. 

A month later, he followed this up by taking out a further 
patent for some improvements in the paying-out machine, with 
Mr. Charles de Bergue, an engineer and " machinist " of London 
and Manchester. This patent was dated May 7th, 1857, No. 1294. 
The variation from the previous patent was mainly directed 
to the arrangement of the paying-out sheaves and their gearing 
on to a friction brake, regulated by hand from the indications 
of strain, as shown by levers connected to a Salter's balance. 
The paying-out machine used on the Atlantic expedition of 1857 
was constructed upon this specification. 

In the following year, when the cable was successfully laid, 
a brake with a self-acting release arrangement at a given point 
of pressure was employed. Here, only a maximum agreed 
strain could be applied this being regulated from time to time 
by weights, according to depth of water, and consequent weight 
of cable being payed out. The above device was based on 
Appold's apparatus for measuring the labour performed by 
prisoners at the crank. Its application to the exigencies of 
cable -laying was worked out by Charles Bright in conjunction 
with Mr. C. E. Amos, M.Inst.C.E. 

Three months after laying the First Atlantic Cable, Sir Charles 
took out a patent containing a series of important improvements 
connected with the insulation of overground wires, including 
the construction of his insulator with double insulating sheds- 
one superimposed on the other. The outer, while adding vastly 
to the insulation, was composed of hard wood, papier mache, 
gutta-percha, etc., so as to act as a shield to protect the inner 
glass, or glazed earthenware, cup which it covered. 

1 See also The Engineer, vol. iv. p. 38. 



He also, in this patent (i8th November, 1858), described an 
improvement in his self-adjusting terminal insulators, which 
are still in general use under the name of " Bright's shackles." 

Fifteen months afterwards a number of additional novelties 
in telegraphic apparatus were comprised in a patent (dated 2oth 
February, 1860), which contained seventeen drawings relating 
to nine distinct inventions, covering apparatus for " duplex " 
signalling, improved " curb keys," testing appliances, printing 
telegraphs, etc. 

About two years later, Bright took out a patent for increasing 
the rate of signalling through long submarine, or subterranean, 
wires, by a perfected compensating (curb) key, which effected 
the neutralisation of the excess (or residual) electricity, so per- 
mitting a rapid succession of signals. 


Sir Charles thus describes it in the Specification No. 538 of 
1862 :- 

The third part of my invention has reference to the sending appa- 
ratus, whereby currents are communicated to the conducting wire. 

In passing currents into long lines of submarine, or subterranean, 
telegraph wire, the speed of signalling in the usual manner is re- 
tarded, and the distinctness of the several signals one from the 
other is impaired by the effects of induction ; so that, for instance, 
a dot is liable to be merged into a dash at the distant end unless 
the sending key is operated so slowly as to allow a sufficient pause 
between the signals for the line to become clear of the residual 
effects of the preceding signals before the following current is 

My present improvement consists of a key which is operated 
in the same manner as the lever keys generally used, but which 
regulates the force or duration, or the force of the currents sent 
into the line. 



The figure here represents the key as adapted for regulating the 
ordinary single current alphabet of dots and dashes, a a is a 
lever key working upon an axle b, and operated by the pressure 
of the finger upon the ivory button c. The key and base, d d, upon 
which it is fixed, are connected with the terminal e by the metallic 
strap /, and the terminal e is connected to the line wire when the 
instrument is in use. The stud g, which stops the motion of the 
key, is connected to the terminal h, which is connected to one 
pole of the battery. The other pole of the battery is connected to 
earth so that a current flows into the line when the key is depressed. 
At the short end of the key is a screw i, the lower end of which 
presses against a small arm or lever k, and thus prevents it from 
coming in contact with the screw /, against which it would other- 
wise be pressed by the spring m. A click n attached to. the arm 
k takes hold of the rough surface of a wheel o upon the axle of 


which is fixed a spur wheel p, which gears into a train of wheels 
terminating in the fan q. When the key is depressed, the click 
takes hold of the wheel o, and the speed at which the arm k rises 
is regulated by the adjustment of the fan q. The screw / is con- 
nected to the terminal r, which is connected to the other pole of 
the battery or to some intermediate point in the battery ; so 
that if the key is depressed for a longer time (say for sending a 
stroke) than the time at which the arm k arrives against r, the 
battery is placed upon short circuit, and no current flows along 
the line (or a part of the battery may be cut off) if the connection 
with r is made at an intermediate point. By this means a longer 
interval takes place after a long signal than after a short one, al- 
though the operator is manipulating the key with the usual pauses 
irrespective of the currents actually sent into the line ; and when 
once the rate of motion of the arm has been properly adjusted to 


the requirements of the line operated upon, the signals will come 
out at the other end with equal spaces between them. 

A second arm, controlled by a fan, to regulate the time of com- 
mencement of the currents after spaces of greater length than 
the spaces between the separate signals, may be used on circuits 
of very great length. 

I have described a fan as the regulator for time, because the 
periods under control are so brief that such regulation is suffici- 
ently precise, and it is easily understood by operators of common 
intelligence ; but I do not confine myself to its use, as other regu- 
lators may obviously be applied to govern the speed of the arm 
k. This system of adapting the duration or force of the current 
to the requirements of the line may be readily applied to the keys 
now employed to send currents after the ordinary single current, 
dot and stroke, system ; or to the method in use to some extent 
of sending two currents of opposite names for each signal recorded. 
But the positive and negative currents may be separately utilized 
after the manner invented by E. B. Bright and described in the 
specification of Letters Patent granted to him dated January i3th, 
1858 (No. 54), and improved upon in the specification of my patent 
of February 2oth, 1860 (No. 465), by placing upon the axle of the 
key a wheel formed of two plates of metal insulated from each 
other, and connected to the two poles of the battery. The direc- 
tion of the current is here changed at each upward motion of the 
key by means of a ratchet wheel fixed to the commutator, and 
worked by a click upon the key. 

I claim under this third head of my invention the method of 
adapting the duration or force of the electric currents to the re- 
quirements of the line. 

In the above patent is also described an ingenious fluid relay, 
in which mercury (or other conducting fluid) is allowed to flow 
vertically in a fine stream between the orifices of two reservoirs. 
The magnetic needle, or arrn of the relay, on passing into the 
conducting stream, completed the local, or secondary, circuit ; 
and on leaving broke it. Thus, the conducting surface was con- 
tinually changed ; while no force was needed from the needle 
or relay arm to make contact by pressure, as in previous devices 
of a similar character. This, with other inventions already 
described, was shown at work in the International Exhibition of 

In addition to the foregoing, there was included in this patent, 
his system of protecting cables against both rust and marine 
insects. It constituted a new method of applying a preservative 
coating by means of an elevator, to layers of yarn or tape, as an 



external protection to submarine cables, instead of passing 
the cable through the heated mixture. The object here was to 
avoid the danger of injury to the gutta-percha core. The mixture 
employed was pitch and tar, with finely ground flint, which was 
found to resist the teredo and other boring sea-worms. Further 
details of the invention are severally given in Chapters II. and 
III. of Vol. II. of the original biography. It at once came 


into general use, and yielded a large return to Sir Charles and 
his partner, Mr. Latimer Clark. 1 

Shortly after taking out the above patent, Bright devised his 

1 The above was worked in connection with a previous patent 
belonging to the firm, on which it was a great improvement. 


" ladder " lightning guard, for insertion between an aerial line 
and its signalling instrument or submarine cable with which it is 
working. The guard was mainly intended for out-of-the-way 
cable huts used for connecting land wires with cables, and only 
visited periodically for testing purposes. It is unnecessarily 
costly and elaborate for land-line work pure and simple. In this 
device (see illustration on page 459) a series of fine platinum wires 
are strung horizontally one above the other at-small distances 
between two conducting plates, between which is a metal rod 
with a pin resting on the uppermost wire. This rod is connected 
to the cable or telegraph instrument, and the wires to the 
land-line apparatus. Should lightning enter the line, the thin 
wire is instantly fused by the charge before any current 
reaches the cable or telegraph instrument, thus only allow- 
ing it to pass to earth across the discharging points. The 
vertical rod then drops by gravity to the next cross wire 
(or " rung ") of the miniature ladder ready for the next similar 
emergency; thus the communication between the line wire 
and the cable or telegraph apparatus is not interrupted, but 
always maintained through the wire and rods. This apparatus 
has been used extensively in the cable service since its introduc- 
tion. It has always been found to protect the cable efficiently. 1 
With previous lightning guards based upon the fusing of a thin 
wire, the communication was entirely interrupted until a fresh 
wire or another protector had been inserted sometimes entailing 
a lengthy and difficult journey. 2 

In 1878, Bright embodied an important system of lighting by 
induction in a provisional specification, 3 stating that "at each 
point where the light is used, the light, or a group of lights, is 
actuated by the secondary coil, or coil, of an induction apparatus 
fixed there. The primary coil, of such induction apparatus is in 
circuit with a metallic main conductor, common to all, and 
connected with an electric battery or a magneto-electric machine, 
which generates the current at any convenient locality. 

1 There may, of course, be any number of these wires. When 
the last is fused the rod drops on to the earth terminal. The aerial 
line is then insulated, whilst the cable is direct to earth : and this 
being observed, fresh wires are then inserted as soon as possible. 

2 For further particulars see Journal of the Institution of Electrical 
Engineers, vol. xix. p. 392. 

3 No. 2602 of 1878. 


" The size and length of the primary and secondary coils of 
the induction apparatus are adapted to the number of lights 
employed at each point where the secondary currents actuate 
the electric light." x 

In connection with this system of transforming the current, 
he also specified various forms of incandescent lamps. 

In pursuing his experiments, Sir Charles was, however, led to 
the conclusion that it was not an economical mode of distributing 
electricity, owing to the unavoidable loss in conversion as com- 
pared with the direct, or continuous, current ; and he did not, 
therefore, proceed to the final specification. 

Some time afterwards the system was re-patented by Messrs. 
Gaulard and Gibbs, and an important installation established, 
having its initial centre of distribution at the Grosvenor Gallery. 
A little later an action was brought by those interested to restrain 
others from employing " transformers." The case, however, fell 
to the ground on the score of want of novelty, when Sir Charles' 
specification was cited. 

The method is now very largely used, chiefly owing to the 
difficulty of finding suitable sites in the heart of London and 
other cities for manufacturing electricity on a large scale, except 
at a considerable distance from the lighting area. 

By employing currents of great intensity, very small main 
conductors can be available, compared with those needed for 
direct currents of low voltage. To take an instance, the mains 
from a great distributing centre atDeptfordare insulated to with- 
stand the enormous tension of 10,000 volts ! Entering the pri- 
mary wires of induction coils in the City, it induces currents of 
greatly moderated intensity in the much larger wires of the 
secondary coils. These secondary currents are still further re- 
duced, by a similar process of transformation, to the low and 
innocuous 50 or 100 volts, or whatever may be required for the 

1 In reference to this invention, the Electrician, of October i4th, 
1892, remarks : " 1878. Specification No. 4212. Sir Charles 
Bright here patented the lighting of vacuum tubes (lamps) by the 
secondary coils of an induction apparatus situated at each point 
where the light was required, the primary coils being coupled 
up to a main conductor common to them all. May not this, 
indeed, be freely interpreted as allowing a transformer to each 
house ? " 



In the same year (1878) Sir Charles brought out a novel printing 
telegraph, 1 in which the various letters are determined by a series 
of consecutively differing resistance coils the resistances being 
inserted by means of a keyboard at the sending station. Here 
the type-wheel ceases to move at the receiving station where 
a different relay is inserted on the equivalent resistance being 


By an arrangement of the apparatus, the type-wheel is caused 
to move the letter to be printed to either direction, instead of 
rotating in one direction only,as in previous printing instruments. 
Thus is avoided the delay arising from passing over letters rarely 

During that year, again, the two Bright fire alarm patents for 
street and house (automatic) duties saw the light of day. As 


a chapter has been devoted to this matter no further allusion 
seems necessary. 2 

In 1879 Bright patented (Specification No. 792 of that year) 
a series of improvements directed to increasing the delicacy of 
the relays and other telegraphic receiving instruments. 

This apparatus proved far more sensitive and decided in action 
than the lightest Morse relays of the time. 

His principle was to control the moving part of the receiving 
apparatus, by which the signal is given or the contact is made 
(whether magnet, armature, or coil), by a second moving part 
worked by the same current. Here, the restraint is withdrawn 

1 See Patent Specification No. 4873 of 1878. 

2 See also the Society of Telegraph Engineers' paper on " Electric 
Fire Alarms," by E. B. Bright, M.Inst.C.E., Member of Council 
(Jour. Soc. Tel. Eng., vol. xiii.). 



from the first or signalling part while the current is passing but 
renewed and brought back to zero when there is no current on 
the line. 

Some further improvements to increase the sensitiveness and 
lightness of telegraph receiving apparatus were included in a 
patent, No. 2387 of 1880. Here, he turned to account levers made 
of aluminium for lightness. 


He made a special application of this arrangement to acoustic 
instruments, or " sounders," by making use of the principle in 
the construction of ordinary needle instruments ; and in the 
present day " Bright's single needle sounder "in one form or 
another may be seen in almost every country post office and 
railway station. On the same pivot with the needle is a pin, 


which, with each movement, beats against either one of two 
cylinders of different metal and pitch. Thus, the clerk can read 
by sound instead of by sight, with all its attendant advantages, 
and this course is nearly always adopted in receiving actual 

During the following two years, several patents followed for 
improvements in electric " arc " lamps, chiefly relating to the 
" feed " of the carbons so as to ensure a steady light a great 
desideratum, but not attained to at that period. 

In the latter year he also devised a novel storage battery 
or accumulator, with the view (as stated in the patent of June, 
1882) " of lessening the weight and space required for a given 
surface of the elements employed, besides augmenting the effec- 
tive action for receiving, storing, and utilising the charges of 
electricity, while also simplifying and economising the con- 
struction and preparation of the secondary batteries. 

" In carrying out the first part of my improvements each 
division, or cell, of my secondary battery is separated by a porous 
diaphragm into two parts, which are filled or nearly so with 
a great number of small spherical granules, made of any suitable 

" Electrical connection is made with the two masses of spherical 
granules in each side of the cell by means of electrodes communi- 
cating with them. 

" I find the ordinary small lead shot, although containing a 
very little arsenic, to be very suitable as spherical granules ; 
and in using them I employ electrodes made also of lead. Sul- 
phuric acid diluted with water as the conducting fluid in the 

The remainder of the patent gives his method of chemically 
converting the surface of the granules as well as other forms of 
secondary batteries into protoxide of lead, by the employment 
of dioxide of lead, etc. 

During 1883 Sir Charles was largely occupied in the production 
of a peculiar dynamo -electric machine, the principle of which 
is thus shortly described in his patent of May 4th of that 
year : * 

1 Specification, No. 2280 of 1883. 



" In the machines hitherto constructed the coils either of 
the armature or field magnets, or both, are made to rotate at a 
very high rate of speed. 

" In my invention the coils both of the armature and field 
magnets are fixed." 

It seems a puzzle, but he attained this object by the employ- 
ment of moveable induced poles of a special and peculiar shape. 

The field magnets (see illustration below) were wound upon 
fixed hollow cores, through which passed an iron or steel shaft, 
which was divided by a non-magnetic metal between the coils. 
The divided ends of the shaft also made of iron or steel were 
extended into the form of segments of a circle or radial arms 
but on opposite sides to one another, and so shaped that the 


outer ends of the segments or radial arms revolved in the same 

In immediate proximity to the outer parts of the segments or 
radial arms, a circular series of insulated conducting coils were 
fixed, forming an armature either of the ring type, or of a num- 
ber of electro magnets. 

The divided shaft with its two central segments would be 
polarised by the field magnets (or by permanent magnets for 
machines of small type, if preferred), N. on one side and S. on 
the other. Its rotation communicated successive waves of 
polarity (and hence dynamic currents) to the coils of the sur- 
rounding fixed armature as the segments passed round. 

This patent of May, 1883, also included an improved com- 


4 66 


mutator in which a circular metallic brush was employed to make 
the requisite electric contact between the rings or cylinders. 

The above machine was, however, only applicable to the pro- 
duction of a continuous current ; but in November of the same 
year he took out a further patent, 1 shown in the drawing below, 
extending the principle to alternating current dynamos. In this, 
as previously, the armature coils are fixed as well as the field 
magnets, the central shaft which rotates being divided in the 
centre, as before, by a piece of brass or other non-magnetic metal. 
The magnetic parts of the shaft expanded at each of their 
central ends into discs, from the outer edge of which spaces 
were cut, so as to constitute radial arms, which thus formed poles, 


North on the one side of the now magnetic division, and South 
on the other. The N. and S. radial arms alternated with one 
another in position, as shown, and thus, when rotated before 
the armature coils (which were linked in pairs), produced alter- 
nating currents. 

By this invention it will be seen that the arrangement of the 
apparatus is such that the employment of collectors or commuta- 
tors is altogether dispensed with. Again, the repairs which arise 
from the damage of coils of wire moving at a high speed arc 
avoided as well as the inequalities of the current arising from 
imperfect contact besides the wear between the collectors and 
commutators with the frequent adjustment entailed. 

1 Specification No. 5422 of 1883. 


The principle involved in both these improvements may be 
thus tersely described : Instead of the currents being set up in 
the coils of the armature ring by revolving rapidly within or 
adjacent to the poles of the field magnets, the divided shaft itself 
forms the field magnet's poles, and induces the requisite currents 
in the armature coils, by its rotation before (or in juxtaposition 
to) them. 

To sum up this digest, Sir Charles Bright took out some twenty 
patents, comprising about one hundred and thirty distinct in- 
ventions, which were either entire novelties or else practical 
improvements upon his own or other previous apparatus. A 
large proportion of these came into use. 

From the first essay in 1852 for more than thirty years his 
average came to something over one invention every three 

The foregoing analysis tends to show over what a wide field 
Bright's reasonings and researches extended, and how versatile 
was his inventive genius. 


ACT, Telegraph Purchase and Regula- 
tions (1869), 373 

Bright, 276 

AGAMKMNO.V, H.M.S., lent by H.M. 
Government for First Atlantic Cable 
undertaking, 55 ; description of, 
55 ; takes cable aboard, 55 ; with 
the cable in a storm, 98 ; completes 
the laying of the First Atlantic Cable 
(August 5th, 1858-), 136 

AIRY, PROFESSOR (afterwards Sir 
George Biddell Airy, K.C.B., F.R.S.), 
reports on feasibility of Trans- 
Atlantic Telegraphy, 81 

ANDERSON, CAPTAIN (afterwards Sir 
James), commands Great Eastern, 
1865 and 1866 Atlantic Cable expe- 
ditions, 181 

PANY, formation of, 182 ; relations 
with Atlantic Co., 188 (note) ; Bright 
Consulting Engineer to, 188 

ARBITRATION, Bright acts in regard 
to Railway Cos.' and Government 
Telegraphs, 376 

ARMS, coat of, belonging to Bright 
family, 3 

ment for formation of, 39 ; regis- 
tration of, 41 ; first meeting of, 41 ; 
Bright subscribes to, 42 ; election 
of board, 42 ; American support, 
43 ; negotiations with Government, 
43 ; first meeting of shareholders, 
45 ; Magnetic Co. provides capital 
for, 45 ; Bright appointed Engineer- 
in-Chief, 46 ; Mr. Whitehouse ap- 
pointed electrician, 46 ; Mr. Field 
appointed general manager, 46 ; in- 
crease of capital, 75 ; representa- 
tives on 1865 expedition, 182 ; 
amalgamated with Anglo-American 
Co., 184 

BADSWORTH : Hall, i ; monument in 
Church, 2 ; Hunt, 3 

BALEARIC ISLANDS, Bright telegraphic- 
ally connects with Spain (1860), 202 

BRETT, BROTHERS, promotion of cable 
laying, 26 

5,000 of shares and bonds in " New- 
foundland " Co., 38 ; counsels re- 
newed effort after disaster of 1858, 
116; cause of cable injury, views 
on, 165 

Sir Charles Bright, 4 

Tilston and Edward Brailsford), 
joint inventions of, 8 ; testing 
electric wires, 8, 9 ; duplex tele- 
graphy, 24 ; fault-testing apparatus, 
9, 162 ; curb keys, 163 ; West 
Indian cable work, 345 ; railway 
arbitrations, 376, 377 ; Servian 
mines, 381-387 ; fire alarm, 388 

scent from ancient Yorkshire family, 
i ; birth and parentage, 4 ; sporting 
proclivities, 4 ; at Merchant Taylors' 
School, 4 ; success in games, and on 
the river, 4 ; bent of school studies, 
4 ; early interest in electricity and 
chemistry, 6 ; in answer to adver- 
tisement, joins Electric Telegraph 
Co. at fifteen, 6 ; works instrument 
at telegraph station, 6 ; precocious 
inventor, 8 (note) ; becomes assist- 
ant engineer, British Telegraph Co., 
9 ; letter to his fiancee, g ; insulator 
for aerial telegraph wires, 1 1 ; En- 
gineer-in-Chief to Magnetic Tele- 
graph Co., ii ; shackles, n ; tele- 
graph posts, 12 ; translator or 
repeater, 12 ; metal tape for pro- 
tecting insulated wires, 12 ; mar- 
riage, 19 ; lays the first cable to 
Ireland (1853), 26-30 ; Atlantic 
cable most memorable achievement 
of his career, 32 ; experiments car- 
ried on with his brother, on the 
wires of the Magnetic Co., 19, 20, 
35, 36 ; copper conductor for cable 
recommended bv, 46 ; protests at 
insufficient size of conductor adopted, 
48 ; appointed Engineer-in-Chief to 
Atlantic Telegraph Co., 46 ; vigil- 
ance in superintending manufacture 
of cable, 51 ; cable-laying gear, 58 ; 
patent log, 58 ; Bright strongly 
urges for laying the cable from both 
ships simultaneously from mid- 
ocean but this plan not adopted 
till afterwards, 58 ; Bright starts work 
from Niagara, 66 ; reports on cause 
of first disaster, 69 ; arrives at Ply- 
mouth after first disaster, 73 ; pro- 
ceeds to Valentia to pick up cable, 
74 ; modification of Appold's Fric- 
tion Brake by, 76 ; dynamometer 
invented by, 78 ; leads off dis- 
cussion on papers concerning sub- 




marine telegraphy at learned so- 
cieties, 81, 82 ; approached by 
numerous " inventors," 82 ; or- 
ganises a " Trial Trip " of the Cable 
Fleet and tests his arrangements for 
laying the cable, 88-91 ; aboard the 
Agamemnon in a perilous storm, 91- 

105 ; embarks on a renewed effort, 

1 06 ; again attended by disaster, 
106 ; sets forth once more with 
H.M.S. Agamemnon and rest of 
squadron, 117 ; and this time (on 
August 5th, 1858) achieves success, 
137 ; sends message to Atlantic 
Telegraph Co., 140 ; lands end of 
cable on coast of Ireland, 141 ; 
official report of success, 141 (note) ; 
banquetted in Dublin, 144 ; at 
Killarney, 146 ; Knighthood con- 
ferred on, for successful laying of 
First (1858) Atlantic Cable (age 26), 
145, 146 (note) ; presentation at 
Court, 145 ; brief rest at home, 
149 ; bitter disappointment on 
electrical collapse of First Atlantic 
Cable, 158 ; views on the cause, 
159 ; final efforts made to renew 
signalling with his Curb Key ap- 
paratus, 163 ; North Atlantic Cable 
Project of 1860, association with, 
167 ; Royal Geographical Society 
Paper on the results of the Fox 
surveying expedition, 173 ; Joint 
Report, with Robert Stephenson, to 
the Board of Trade, regarding types 
of cable, 200 ; advises Government 
regarding proposed line to Gibraltar, 
200 ; lays cable in the Mediterranean 
Sea (Spain to Balearic Isles), 200-204 ; 
Telegraphic extensions for " Mag- 
netic " and " Submarine " Telegraph 
Companies, 205-206 ; urges impor- 
tance of surveying proposed cable 
routes, 208 ; retirement from En- 
gineership (in favour of Consulting 
Engineership) to " Magnetic " Com- 
pany, 209 ; partnership (1861) with 
Mr. Latimer Clark, M.Inst.C.E., 212 ; 
makes suggestions regarding electri- 
cal standards and units, 212 ; and 
serves on (1861) B.A. Committee 
for, 213 ; Joint B.A. paper with 
Mr. L. Clark, on " Electrical Stand- 
ards, Units and Measurements," 213 ; 
makes experiments concerning effect 
of temperature and pressure on the 
insulation of covered wires, 214 ; 
evolves formula for same, 215 ; 
outer covering for cables, 216 ; 
application of, 217 ; cable com- 
pound, 216, 225 ; patent for curbing 
electric currents when signalling, 
216; the Telegraph to India, En- 
gineer to Government for (1862), 
219 ; personal supervision of Persian 
Gulf cables, 225 ; adopts improved 

and elaborate system of electrical 
testing for same, 227-229 ; starts 
laying cable sections from sailing 
ships (January, 1864), 235 ; landing 
the cable in mud, 247 ; completes 
work successfully (April, 1864), 255 ; 
first message through line to Bright, 
240 ; returns home, 256 ; reads 
paper on the " Telegraph to India " 
to Institution of Civil Engineers and 
is awarded Telford Medal (1865), 
261 ; asked, and agrees, to " stand 
for " Parliamentary Borough of 
Greenwich, 265 ; election address, 
266; elected M.P. (1865), 274; 
political views, see election address, 
266 ; activity in the House of Com- 
mons, 274 ; urges for the equalisa- 
tion of poor rates, 300 ; takes 
part in Government inquiry into 
Construction of Submarine Cables, 
277 ; serves on Parliamentary Com- 
mittees regarding telegraphic and 
postal improvements with the East, 
283-289 ; acts as Consulting Engineer 
to second and third (1865-6) Atlantic 
Cables, 179, 185, 188 ; advises on 
types and estimates for same, 179, 
185 ; draws out specification for 
same, 179 ; speech at Liverpool 
Banquet on completion of 1866 
Atlantic Cable, 196 ; Consulting En- 
gineer to subsequent Atlantic Cable 
enterprises, 199 ; promotes exten- 
sion of cables to Far East, 289 ; 
Engineer and Electrician to Anglo- 
Mediterranean Telegraph Co., 292 ; 
Malta-Alexandria Cable expedition, 
293 ; stays in Cairo, 293 ; Engineer 
to British Indian Submarine Tele- 
graph Co., 294 ; Engineer to British 
Indian Extension Telegraph Co., 
295 ; Consulting Engineer to the 
China Submarine Telegraph Co., 
295 ; Engineer to the British- 
Australian Telegraph Co., 295 ; 
Engineer to the Falmouth, Gibraltar 
and Malta Telegraph Co., 296 ; 
opposes hasty acquirement of land 
telegraphs by Government, 299 ; 
retirement from Parliament (1868), 

304 ; undertakes the laying of a 
system of cables in the West Indies, 

305 ; acquires and fits out as tele- 
graph ship the s.s. Dacia for the 
purpose, 310 ; devises gear aboard, 
312 ; designs type of cable, 313 ; 
association with Silvertown Com- 
pany, 310 ; experiences much trouble, 
and two years' anxiety, in laying 
West Indian cables on bad sea-bot- 
tom, in unhealthy climate, 316-318 ; 
victim to malarious fever, 360 ; 
goes home under doctor's orders, 
360 ; returns to West Indies to 
complete work, 365 ; grappling for 



and repairing cables, 365-367 ; home 
once more, 367 ; promotes other 
cable enterprises, 372 ; again op- 
poses State absorption of inland 
telegraphs, 373 ; expert witness 
in railway and Government tele- 
graph arbitrations, 376 ; mining in 
France, Germany, Somersetshire and 
Servia, 378-387 ; fire alarm system, 
388-396 ; expert in telephony, 397 ; 
gives evidence for the Post Office 
v. Edison Telephone Co., 398 ; 
electric lighting expert and in- 
ventor, 399 ; consulting engineer 
to British Electric Light Co., 399 ; 
gives expert evidence concerning 
Direct United States Cable, 409 ; 
Reports on Mackay-Bennett Atlantic 
Cable Scheme, 411 ; draws up 
specification for same, 412 ; reports 
on Ailhaud's Duplex Telegraphy as 
infringement on Messrs. Muirhead's 
Patents, 412; reports on Phonopore, 
413 ; Commissioner for H.M. Govern- 
ment at Paris Electrical Exhibition 
(1881), 414 ; conducts the Prince of 
Wales (now H.M. The King) over 
Exhibition, 417 ; becomes President 
of the Societe Internationale des 
Electriciens, 417 ; becomes President 
of the Institution of Electrical 
Engineers, during 1887 Jubilee of 
Telegraphy, 418 ; inaugural ad- 
dress as President, 418 ; early in- 
terest in Volunteer movement, 423 ; 
captain of Volunteer corps, 423 ; 
prominent as a Freemason, 424 ; 
home life, 426 ; recreations shoot- 
ing, fishing, yachting and travel- 
ling, 427-438 ; club reminiscences, 
439 ; bust of, by Count Gleichen, 
439, 440 ; death, 441 ; funeral, 
443 ; summary of life work and 
main characteristics, 446-448 ; sum- 
mary of inventions, see Appendix 
elder brother of Sir Charles, 4 ; 
joins Electric Telegraph Co., 6; 
early joint inventions with his 
brother, 8 ; joins Magnetic Tele- 
graph Co., 9 ; and becomes Mana- 
ger, ii ; B.A. paper on " Retarda- 
tion of Electricity through Long 
Subterranean Wires," 20 ; succeeds 
his brother as Engineer (whilst re- 
maining Manager) of " Magnetic " 
Co., 25 ; joins Sir Charles in West 
Indies for cable work, 340 ; under- 
takes grappling for lost cables during 
Sir Charles' absence at home, 362 ; 
engaged with Sir Charles on railway 
arbitrations, 376, 377 ; engaged 
with Sir Charles on mines in Servia, 
381-387 ; introduces, with Sir Charles, 
street and automatic fire alarm 
systems, 388 ; contributes paper on 

subject ; becomes Director of the 
British Electric Light Co., 399 ; a 
prominent Volunteer, 423 ; a pro- 
minent Freemason, 424 
BRIGHT, Mr. JOHN, formerly M.P. for 
Pontefract, first master of Bads- 
worth hunt, 2 

BRIGHT, COL. SIR JOHN, Bart., ancestor 
of Sir Charles, i ; monument to, 2 
BRIGHT, LADY, on board during laying 
of Anglo- Irish cable, 28 ; letters to, 
from Bright (mainly when abroad), 
9, 16, 233, 234, 252, 309, 315, 321, 
322, 323, 338, 385 ; telegram and 
congratulations to, on laying of 
Atlantic cable, 142 
BRIGHT, Miss MARY ANGELA, married 

to Mr. David Jardine Jardine, 426 
BRIGHT & CLARK, Messrs., the firm of, 
212 ; paper on electrical standards, 
units, and measurements, 213 ; 
nomenclature of electrical standards 
and units, 213 (note) ; experiments 
on effect of temperature and pres- 
sure on the insulation of gutta-percha- 
covered wire, 214, 215 ; compound 
for covering cables, 216 ; engineers 
for Government to first cable to 
India, 225 ; Consulting Engineers 
to Anglo-American Telegraph Co. 
(second and third Atlantic Cables), 
188, 193, 194, 195 ; British Indian 
Telegraph Co., 294 ; British Indian 
Extension Telegraph Co., 295 ; China 
Submarine Telegraph Co., 295 ; Brit- 
ish-Australian Telegraph Co., 295 ; 
Marseilles, Algiers and Malta Tele- 
graph Co., 295 ; Falmouth, Gibral- 
tar and Malta Telegraph Co., 296 ; 
dissolution of partnership, 304 ; 
BRISTOL, Bright advises re electric 

light, 405 

Electrical Standards and Units 
(1861), Bright a member of, 213 

Bright consulting engineer to, 399 
GRAPH COMPANY, the amalgamation 
of earlier companies, 25 (see under 
" Magnetic " Telegraph Co.) 
BUST, Bright's, by Count Gleichen, 
exhibited at Royal Academy, 439, 

CABLES, earliest (in shallow water), 26 
CABLE, ANGLO-IRISH (1853), 26-30; 

design and manufacture of, 27-20 ; 

laying of, by Bright, in deep water, 

28, 30 (see under Ireland, first 

effective cable to) 



CABLE, FIRST ATLANTIC (1857-8), the 
greatest achievement of Bright's 
career, 32 ; general requirements, 
and nature of the undertaking, 33, 
53 ; conditions for landing, 37 ; 
description of sheathed cable, 46-50 ; 
length of, 46 ; for depth of, 34 ; 
construction of, 50-52 ; type of 
insulated conductor, 46, 48 ; 1857 
machinery for regulating egress of, 
56, 57 ; landing at Bally carberry, 
Ireland, 63 ; description of laying 
by Bright up to time of first break- 
age, 66-69 ; picked up at Valentia, 

74 ; necessary further capital raised, 

75 ; Bright's improved (1858) paying 
out gear, 77 ; novel suggestions re- 
garding the problem, 82-86 ; working 
through (electrical) experiments at 
Keyham Dockyard, 86 ; introduc- 
tion of Thomson Marine Galvano- 
meter and " Speaker," 87 ; subse- 
quent decision to pay out from two 
ships starting from mid-ocean to- 
wards respective shores, 87 ; " Trial 
Trip " for testing arrangements and 
methods, 88 ; Agamemnon in a 
storm, 91 ; cable consequently 
adrift, 100 ; renewed effort, 105 ; 
splice lowered in mid-ocean, 107 ; 
cable breaks, 107 ; another attempt, 
109 ; another break, 112 ; ships 
return home, 115 ; proposals to 
abandon project, 116; a further 
effort decided on, 117 ; splice 
lowered once more in mid-ocean, 
122 ; ships start paying out once 
more, 123 ; encounter with a whale 
124 ; another narrow escape, 124 
splicing against time, 126 ; bolster 
ous weather and precautions, 129 
growing confidence, 131 ; perse ver 
ance rewarded, 137 ; Bright lands 
Irish end August 5th, 1858 ; signals 
successfully sent through to further 
end, 137 ; landing of American end, 
140 ; wild rejoicings in America, 
142 ; Bright sends official message 
reporting completion of work, 140 ; 
celebrations of event, 146 ; elec- 
tricians take charge of line, 150 ; 
congratulatory messages between 
Queen Victoria and American Presi- 
dent, 151-152 ; other early messages, 
1 5 5-i 56; English and American 
newspapers enthusiastic, 142, 154 ; 
military messages, enormous saving 
effected through, 156 ; gradual failure 
of insulation, 156 ; causes of total 
failure after three months' working, 

CABLES, between First (1858) Atlantic 
and Second (1865) Atlantic line : 
Red Sea and India, 220 ; Spain to 
Balearic Isles, 202-204 ; Malta to 
Alexandria (in sections), 201 ; Persian 

Gulf (first successful cable to India, 
1863-4), 219-264 (see also under 
Persian Gulf Cable and under India, 
Telegraph to) 

CABLES, second and third Atlantic 
(1865-6), Bright acts as Consulting 
Engineer to, 179, 185, 188 ; fresh 
capital required for, 176 ; cost and 
type of, 178-180 ; decision to lay in 
a single length from one ship only, 
and Great Eastern selected for pur- 
pose, 1 80 ; cable broken during 
paying out, 183 ; further capital 
again raised, and new company 
formed, 184 ; ultimate success 
achieved (1866), 189 ; recovery and 
completion of 1865 cable after re- 
peated failures and many mishaps, 

CABLES, subsequent to second and 
third Atlantic lines : Anglo-Mediter- 
ranean (Malta- Alexandria, direct), 
292 ; British Indian (Suez-Bom- 
bay), 294 ; British Indian Extension 
(India - Straits Settlements - China- 
Japan- Australia), 295 ; Marseilles, 
Algiers and Malta, 296 ; Falmouth, 
Gibraltar and Malta, 296 ; West 
Indian, 305-370 (see under West 
Indian Cables) 

CANNING, MR. (Sir Samuel), M. Inst. 
C.E., Bright's chief assistant on First 
(1858) Atlantic Cable, 51 ; Engineer- 
in-Charge for contractors to Second 
and Third Atlantic Cables, 178, 182 

Bright when abroad, 318, 319 

CHAMPAIN, MAJOR (Sir J. U. Bateman, 
R.E., K.C.M.G.), 251 ; Director- 
General Indo-European Government 
Telegraphs, 258 

CHISWICK, Bright removes to Little 
Sutton, 304 

C.E., partnership with Bright, 212 ; 
reads joint B.A. paper with Bright 
on " Electrical Standards, Units and 
Measurements," 213 ; representing 
Messrs. Bright & Clark on Second 
and Third Atlantic Cable expedi- 
tions, 1 8 8, 193 ; Bright dissolves 
partnership with, 304 

CLIFFORD, MR. HENRY, a cousin-in- 
law of Bright's, 51 ; joins Bright's 
staff on First Atlantic Cable, 51 ; 
Assistant (and afterwards Chief) En- 
gineer to Telegraph Construction 
Co., 178 ; Chief Assistant-Engineer 
to contractors for Second and Third 
Atlantic Cables, 182 

CLUBS, BRIGHT'S, Reform, Garrick, 
Whitehall and Thames Yacht, 438 

COMMEMORATIONS : Rejoicing celebra- 
tions in America on completion of 
First Atlantic Cable, 1858, 142 ; 
banquet at Dublin to Bright on 



successful laying of First Atlantic 
Cable,. 144 ; at Killarney on same 
occasion, 144 ; on retirement from 
engineership of " Magnetic " Co., 
209 ; with illuminated testimonial 
and presentation of plate, 210 ; at 
Bombay, to celebrate successful com- 
pletion of first telegraph to India, 
by cable, 255 ; at Liverpool, on 
return of 1866 Atlantic Cable Expe- 
dition, 194 ; to celebrate Atlantic 
telegraphy, 278, 280, 281 ; Bright's 
speech at, 279 ; Field's speech at, 
279 ; Morse's greeting message, 281 ; 
address and banquet to Bright at 
Kingston, Jamaica, on laying of the 
West Indian Cables, 331, 332 

sociation, on the formulation of 
Electrical Standards and Units 
(1861), Bright a member of, 213 ; 
House of Commons (1860), on Im- 
provement in communication with 
India and the East, Bright a member 
of, 283, 289 ; Board of Trade, on 
Electric Lighting Bill of 1882, 
Bright a member of, 405 

COMPOUND, Bright & Clark's, for 
outer cable covering, 214-218 

CONDUCTOR, COPPER : adopted for 
First Atlantic Cable, Bright's objec- 
tion to, 46 ; Whitehouse's views 
on, 48, 160 ; Faraday's and Morse's 
views, 48, 159, 160 ; Bright's specifi- 
cation for heavier core, 159 ; Second 
Atlantic Cable (1865-6), Bright's 
specification for, 179 ; improvements 
in Persian Gulf Cable, 226, 227 

joint founder of the Electric Tele- 
graph Co., 7 ; expresses pride in 
Bright's career, 175 

CORE, Gutta-percha, adopted for First 
Atlantic Cable, 46 ; Bright's objec- 
tion to, 46 ; Bright's specification 
for Second and Third Atlantic Cables, 
179 ; and for Gibraltar Cable, 201 

CRAMPTON, MR. T. R., carries through 
early English Channel cable scheme, 

PANY, 310 ; cables laid by Bright 
for, 319 

device for, 218, also Appendix 

Dacia, s.s., Bright secures and fits as 
telegraph ship, 310 ; cable apparatus 
for, 312 ; off Silvertown Works, 311 ; 
West Indian Cable shipped on, 314; 
reported wrecked, 315; engaged on 
West Indian Cable work (1869-71), 

Daily Telegraph, the, on " The 
Anglo-Indian Electric Line," 237 

DEATH of Sir Charles Bright, 441 

DIARY, Bright's, when laying West 

India Cables, 335 
DUPLEX TELEGRAPHY, Bright reports 

on an infringement of Muirhead's 

system of, 412 
DYNAMOMETER, for cable laying, bv 

Bright, 78 

EAST AND FAR EAST, Bright urges 
telegraphic extension to, 289 

COMPANY, cable system of, originates 
with Bright, 289 (note), 290, 298, 299 

ELECTION, Parliamentary, Greenwich, 

joins, 6 


Electrical Review, the, on Bright's 
Presidential address to Institution 
of Electrical Engineers, 418 ; obitu- 
ary notice of Bright, 442 

EVERETT, MR. W. E., U.S.N., Assistant 
Engineer, First Atlantic Cable (1858), 

FARADAY, mistaken views on signalling 
through First Atlantic Cable, 48, 160 

FAULTS, Bright's system, of 1852, for 
locating, 8 ; used in testing faulty 
First Atlantic Cable, 162 

FIELD, MR. CYRUS, W., 104 ; forms 
syndicate and establishes the New 
York, Newfoundland and London 
Telegraph Co., 38 ; makes the ac- 
quaintance of Mr. John Watkins 
Brett, 38 ; signs agreement with 
Brett and Bright, as joint projectors 
for an Atlantic cable, 40 ; fails to 
obtain sufficient American capital 
for same, 43 ; subscribes to Atlantic 
Telegraph Co., 42 ; becomes general 
manager of Atlantic Telegraph Co., 
46 ; accompanies 1857 and 1858 First 
Atlantic Cable expeditions, 66, 89, 
92, 1 1 8 ; promoter of Second Atlantic 
Cable, 177 ; again fails to obtain 
substantial American support for 
cable, 177 

FIRE ALARM, system of Brothers 
Bright, 388 ; adopted in London, 
390 ; automatic method, 392 ; gold 
medal awarded for, at Paris Ex- 
hibition (1881), 393 ; and Crystal 
Palace (1882) Exhibition, 393 ; 
paper on, at Society of Telegraph 
Engineers, 396 

FISHING, Bright's fondness for, 427 

sociated with Bright over electric 
lighting work, 408 

FORDE, MR. H. C., M.Inst.C.E., joint 
engineer (with Mr. Lionel Gisborne) 
for " Red Sea " Co.'s line, 1858, 220; 



joint engineer with Bright, Mr. L.Clark 
and Prof. Fleeming Jenkinfor British 
Indian Extension Co.'s Cables, 295 

Fox (steam yacht), North Atlantic 
Surveying Expedition, the, 172 

FREEMASONRY, Bright's association 
with, 424 ; " Sir Charles Bright " 
Lodge at Teddington, 425 

FUNERAL of Sir Charles Bright, 443 

Atlantic Telegraph project, meeting 
before Fox expedition, 171 ; discus- 
sion on Bright's paper thereon, 173 

GIBRALTAR, projected cable to, Bright 
advises Government on, 201 

GISBORNE, Mr. F. N., obtains sole 
landing rights for cable on coast of 
Newfoundland, 37 ; erects New- 
foundland land line, 38 ; disposes 
of exclusive rights to Mr. Cyrus 
Field, 38 

GISBORNE, Mr. Lionel, engineer " Red 
Sea " line, 1858, 220 

GLADSTONE, Right Hon. W. E., M.P., 
succeeds Bright as member for 
Greenwich, 303 

GLASS, ELLIOT & Co., manufacturers 
of half the First Atlantic Cable, 50 

GLEICHEN, Count (Prince Victor of 
Hohenlohe-Langenburg), executes 
bust of Bright, 439, 440 

GOLDSMID, MAJOR (Maj. -General Sir 
F. J. Goldsmid, K.C.S.I., C.B.), 
Persian survey by, 224 ; Director- 
General Indo-European telegraph 
system, 258 

PANIES, 299, 314 ; Bright's opposi- 
tion to, on behalf of, 219, 314 

GRAPPLING, appliances used on s.s. 
Great Eastern for recovering the 
1865 Atlantic Cable, 186, 187 ; work 
on West Indian Cable expeditions, 
309, 336-367 

GRAY, Mr. MATTHEW, West Indian 
Cables, 310 

GREENWICH, Parliamentary borough 
of, Bright elected member for, 274 ; 
declines re-nomination for, 301 

HARLEYFORD, Bright's shooting at, 429 

HARROW WEALD, Bright's home at, 
54, 55 

HENLEY, Mr. W. T., manufacturer of 
Persian Gulf Cable, 225 

HOME LIFE, Bright's, 426 

HOOPER, Mr. WILLIAM, improvement 
in india-rubber insulated cables, 
281 ; reported on by Messrs. Bright 
& Clark, 283 

HUGHES, Prof. D. E., F.R.S., fellow 
commissioner with Bright of Paris 
Exhibition (1881), 415 ; contributes 
joint paper thereon with Bright, 416 

HUNTER, Capt., J.E., R.N. of H.M.S. 
Vestal, assists Bright on West Indian 
Cable work, 316 ; manages Servian 
mines, 384 

INDIA, TELEGRAPH TO (1863-4), failure 
of " Red Sea " Co.'s attempt (1858), 
220 ; formation of new company 
(1862), 220 ; submarine cable de- 
cided on, 223 ; appointment of 
directors and engineers (Messrs. 
Bright & Clark), 224, 225 ; Persian 
Gulf Cable, design and construction 
of, 225-231 ; laying the different 
sections, 232-255 ; banquet to com- 
memorate success of undertaking, 
255 ; erecting the land-line con- 
necting links, 256-260 ; retrospection 
and reminiscences, 261-264 ; Bright 
contributes paper on the undertaking 
to the Institution of Civil Engineers, 
1868 ; further land-line system (of 
Indo-European Telegraph Co.) es- 
tablished 1868, 260 

INDIA AND THE EAST, Bright works in 
Parliament at improving telegraphic 
and postal communication with, 
283 ; serves on House of Commons 
Select Committee for, 285 

Messrs. Bright & Clark report on 
Hooper's improved method, 281 

formation and objects of, 260 

Bright's paper on " The Telegraph 
to India, and its extension to Aus- 
tralia and China," 261 ; obituary 
notice in proceedings a tribute to 
Bright regarding his Atlantic Cable 
and other engineering work, 138 

EERS, Bright elected President of, 
418 ; tribute to Bright and con- 
dolence with family on occasion of 
death, 419 ; Council attend funeral, 
419, 444 

INSULATOR, Bright's porcelain, n ; 
universally adopted, u ; testimony 
of Lord Kelvin to merit of, n ; 
terminal, or shackle, n ; its appli- 
cation, 12 

INVENTIONS, Bright's summary of (see 

IRELAND, first effective cable to, laid 
by Bright, 1853, 26-30 ; design and 
manufacture of, 27, 28 ; laying, 28, 
29, 30 ; Kelvin's tribute to Bright 
in this regard as " the first to lay a 
cable in really deep water," 27 

ried to Bright's second daughter, 426 



KELVIN, LORD, F.R.S. (Prof. William 
Thomson), director of Atlantic Tele- 
graph Co., 45 ; accompanies First 
Atlantic Cable expeditions, 66, 89, 
92 ; tribute to Bright, when laying 
the Anglo-Irish Cable (1853) as " the 
first to lay a cable in really deep 
water," 27 ; tribute to Bright as 
pioneer of ocean cable- laying, 33, 158 
(note), 420 ; on theory of electrically 
working long cables, 48 ; on type of 
core required for working Atlantic 
Cable, 48 ; counsels renewed efforts 
after 1858 failure, 117 ; electrical 
testing and signalling apparatus, 
87 ; use of same on First Atlantic 
Cable, 151, 1 60, 161 ; reports jointly 
with Bright on subsequent electrical 
condition of First Atlantic Cable, 
162 ; on use of excessive power, 166 ; 
consulting expert, 1865 expedition, 
182 ; electrical adviser to " Atlan- 
tic " Co., 1866, 188 ; improves his 
signalling apparatus for working 
Second Atlantic Cable, 192 ; tribute 
to Bright as originator of system of 
electrical nomenclature and measure- 
ment for electrical standards and 
units, 213 (note) 

KING, MERVYN, Mr., married to 
Bright's eldest daughter, 426 

KNIGHTHOOD, conferred on Bright, 
145 ; ceremony of, 146 (note) ; 
record youthfulness at time of, 146 

LAMBERT, Mr. FRANK, for Messrs. 
Bright & Clark, testing Persian Gulf 
Cable, 228 ; arid 1865 and 1866 
Atlantic Cables, 194 

LAMPSON, Mr. C. M. (Sir Curtis, Bart.) 
and Atlantic Telegraph Co., 45, 117, 

LAWS, Mr. J. C., on Electrical Staff, 
First Atlantic Cable expeditions, 66, 
89, 143 ; representing Messrs. Bright 
& Clark, tests Persian Gulf Cable, 
228 ; also, in same capacity, 1866 
Atlantic Cable, 188 

LIBRARY, Bright's, 371 

LIGHTING, ELECTRIC, early experi- 
ments with, 399 ; Government Bill 
of 1882, 401 ; Bright's improve- 
ments in, 402 (see also Appendix) ; 
British Electric Light Co., Bright 
Consulting Engineer to, 399 ; St. 
James' & Pall Mall Electric Light 
Co., Bright Consulting Engineer to, 
408 ; Bright's letter to The Times 
on, 402 ; select committee on, 405 ; 
Bright advises City of Bristol con- 
cerning scheme for utilising water 
power (of the river Avon), for, 405 

tent (see Appendix) 

LOG, SHIP'S, patent, by Bright, 58 

Bright reports on and specifies for, 

MCCLINTOCK, Capt., R.N. (Admiral Sir 
Leopold McClintock, K.C.B., LL.D., 
F.R.S.), survey for North Atlantic 
Telegraph project, 171 

Bright joins and becomes Engineer- 
in-Chief to, n ; improvements in 
telegraph apparatus by Bright, for, 
13, 21 ; Bright establishes extensive 
system of wires for, 13-18 ; Bright's 
underground system for, 15 ; ab- 
sorbs British Telegraph Co., becom- 
ing British and Irish Magnetic 
Telegraph Co., 25 ; success of, 25 ; 
Bright retires from post of Engineer 
and becomes Consulting Engineer, 
25, 209 ; banquet and testimonial to 
Bright on said occasion, 210 ; change 
underground system to overhead,2io 

MANCE, Mr. (now Sir H. C. Mance, 
C.I.E. M.Inst.C.E.), electrician to 
Indian Government Telegraphs, tri- 
bute to Bright as " pioneer of 
oceanic telegraphy," 420 

MARRIAGE, Bright's, 19 

MESSAGES, early, by First Atlantic 
Cable (1858), 137 ; first clear mes- 
sage from Newfoundland, 151 ; rate 
of same, 151 (note) ; text of, be- 
tween directors in England and 
America, 151 ; text of, between 
Queen Victoria and President of 
United States, 151, 152 ; further 
early use of cable, 154 ; first public 
news message, 155 ; saving effected 
by single message, 156 ; for military 
transport of troops, 156 ; last word 
before gradual failure of line, 156 ; 
Second and Third Atlantic Cables 
(1865-6), message sent from Liver- 
pool to Washington on occasion of 
banquet to celebrate success, 194 

MINES, Bright's association with, 378 ; 
Valgodemard (S. France), 378 ; New 
Mansfield Co.'s, Klausthal (Ger- 
many), 379 ; Croscombe (Somerset- 
shire), 379 ; Kucaina (Servia), 381-387 

MORIARTY, Capt. H. A., R.N., C.B., 
navigating master of Agamemnon, 
First Atlantic Cable expedition. 66, 
88 ; Navigator, Second and Third 
Atlantic Cable Expeditions, 182, 188 

characterises First Atlantic Cable, 
" the great feat of the century," 32 ; 
reports in favour of small core for 
cable, 48 ; accompanies First Atlan- 
tic Cable Expedition, 66 ; views on 
electric signalling through long in- 
sulated wires, 160 ; message of 
greeting to Bright and others con- 
cerned with Atlantic Cable, at 
banquet of 1866, 281 



MUIRHEAD, Messrs. John and Alexan- 
der, inventors of system of electri- 
cally duplexing cables, 412 ; Bright 
reports on infringement of their 
duplex patent, 412 ; Bright associated 
with, over electric light work, 402 

NEWALL, Messrs. R. S., & Co., manu- 
facturers of Anglo-Irish Cable (1853), 
28 ; manufacturers of half First 
Atlantic Cable, 50 

Niagara, U.S.N.S., sent from America 
to take half First Atlantic Cable and 
assist in laying same, 56 

PARIS, International Electrical Exhi- 
bition, 414 ; Bright represents 
Great Britain at, as Commissioner, 
appointed by Foreign Office, 415 

PARLIAMENT, Bright elected a member 
of, 274 ; Bright's activity in, 274, 
300 ; serves on House of Commons 
Committees, 283-289 

PAYING-OUT, Anglo-Irish Cable (1853), 
apparatus for, 29 ; First Atlantic 
Cable, 1857 expedition, apparatus 
for, 58 ; First Atlantic Cable, 1858 
expeditions, apparatus for, 76-81 ; 
decision to pay out Atlantic Cable 
from two ships starting in mid- 
ocean, 88 ; Bright tests arrange- 
ments for paying out said cable in 
course of " trial trip," 89-91 ; 
apparatus fitted on board Great 
Eastern for Second and Third Atlantic 
Cables of 1865-6, 181 

PEDIGREE of Yorkshire Brights, 3 

PENDER, Mr. (Sir John, G.C.M.G., 
M.P.), A Director of " Magnetic " 
and " Atlantic " Telegraph Com- 
panies, 45 ; Chairman, Telegraph 
Construction and Maintenance Co., 
and joint guarantor of Second Atlan- 
tic Cable, 178; takes leading part 
in commercial development and ex- 
tension of submarine telegraphy, 296 

PERSIAN GULF CABLE, 1853-4 (see also 
under India, Telegraph to), " The 
pioneer Cable, electrically speak- 
ing," 219 ; importance of, in history 
of submarine telegraphy, 261, 262 ; 
design and construction of, 225-230 ; 
improved conductor and insulator, 
226, 227 ; improved manufacture, 
229-231 ; elaborate, improved, sys- 
tem of electrical testing adopted, 
227-229 ; Bright supervises the laying 
of sections from sailing ships, 235- 
255 ; landing cable in mud, 247 ; 
flag and lamp signalling introduced 
for cable-laying operations, 238, 413 

PHONOPORE, Langdon-Davies', 413 ; 
Bright acts as first President of 
Syndicate, 413 

Bright's impromptu, for recovering 

part of First Atlantic Cable, 74, 75 ; 
improved gear fitted to Great 
Eastern for Second and Third Atlantic 
Cable Expeditions, 186, 187 

" PLATEAU," supposed " Telegraphic," 
for Atlantic Cable, 35 

POLITICS, part taken by Bright in, 
265-275 ; Bright's views in (see his 
Election Address), 268 ; Bright's 
activity in House of Commons, 274, 

POSTS, aerial telegraph, Bright's sys- 
tem of, 12 

PREECE, Mr. W. H. (now Sir William 
Preece, K.C.B., F.R.S.), paper on 
" The Maintenance and Durability 
of Submarine Cables in Shallow 
Waters," 207 ; Bright discusses 
same, 208 

PRESS, Newspaper, British and Ameri- 
can, enthusiasm of, over successful 
laying of First Atlantic Cable, 142, 


PROJECTS, unrealized, Grand North 
Atlantic telegraph, 167 ; South At- 
lantic telegraph, 175 ; intermediate 
route, 176 

RAILWAY COMPANIES, arbitration with 

Post Office authorities, Bright gives 

evidence for, in, 376 
RECREATIONS, Bright's, 427 
REFORM CLUB, Bright frequenter of, 

REPORTS, by Bright on, Mackay- 

Bennett Atlantic Cable schemes, 

411 ; Ailhaud's Duplex Telegraphy 
as infringing Muirhead's system, 

412 ; Langdon Davies' Phonopore, 

gineer to, 408 

SAUTY, Mr. C. V. de, First Atlantic 
Cable, 1857-8 ; association with, 66, 
89, 143 ; chief electrician, Second 
Atlantic (1865) Cable Expedition, 

goes to, 4 ; Bright represents, at 
Racquets and Rowing, 4 


SHACKLES, Bright's Telegraph, n, 12 
(see also Appendix) 

SHAFFNER, Col., T. P., promoter of 
North Atlantic Telegraph Route, 

SHOOTING, Bright's taste for, 427 

SIEMENS BROTHERS, Messrs., early 
electric lighting machines, 400 

SIEMENS AND HALSKE, Messrs., electri- 
cians to " Red Sea " Cable, 220 

SILICA, incorporated in Bright's Cable 
Compound as protection against 
teredo (auger worm), 225 



SILVERTOWN (India- Rubber, Gutta- 
Percha and Telegraph Works) COM- 
PANY, Bright's association with, 310 

trician to contractors, 1866 Atlantic 
Cable, 187, 188 

SOUNDING, First Atlantic Cable Route, 
34 ; method of, 34 ; results of, 35 

SPLICE, mid-ocean, First Atlantic Cable 
(1858), 89, 90 

STANDARDS of electrical measurements, 
formulation of, Bright's association 
with, 213 

pointed director, Persian Gulf Cable 
line, 224 ; travels with Bright over- 
land to India, 231 ; death of, 257 ; 
Bright's tribute to, 258 

STORM, H.M.S. Agamemnon in, 239 

STUART- WORTLEY, Right Hon. James, 
M.P., chairman of " Atlantic " Tele- 
graph Co., 45 ; on cause of break- 
down first Atlantic Cable (1858), 166 

working arrangements with " Mag- 
netic " Co., 25 ; Bright's association 
with, effected by State absorption, 

TAYLOR, Mr. ROBERT JOHN, brother- 
in-law to Bright, accompanies First 
Atlantic Cable Expedition (1857), 
66 ; stays with Bright in Servia, 384 

TAYLOR, Miss, married to Bright, 19 

and contractors of Second and Third 
Atlantic Cables (1865-6), 178, 182, 
184, 188, 195 ; contractors to Anglo- 
Mediterranean and other eastern 
Cables, 292, 297 

TELEGRAPHS, Land systems transferred 
to State, 373 ; Act of 1868, 299, 373 ; 
Purchase and Regulations Act of 
1869, 373 ; Bright protests against 
Government haste in matter, 374 

TELEPHONY, Bright's association with, 
397 ; Bright acts as expert witness 
for the Post Office versus the Edison 
Telephone Co., 398 

TEMPLE, Mr. JOHN, secretary to 
Bright, 182 ; with Atlantic Cable 
Expeditions of 1865 and 1866, 182, 

TESTING, Electrical, Bright's early pa- 
tent for, 8 ; elaborate system of, 
applied by Bright to First Persian 
Gulf Cable (1863), 227-229 

Kelvin, Lord) 

Times, The, leading article on Bright's 
work of laying of Manchester under- 
ground wires, 16 ; speaks of the 
First Atlantic Cable as "The accom- 
plishment of the age," 32 ; realistic 
description of Agamemnon in storm, 

93 ; account of expedition of July 
I7th 1858, ii8; leading article on 
completion of First Atlantic Cable 
A*? ',M2; represented on Second 
Atlantic Cable Expeditions, 183 

TOUR, in Pullman Car, Bright accom- 
panies, 432 

TRANSLATOR (or " Repeater "), Tele- 
graphic, Bright's patent, 12 

UNDERGROUND Cables, " Magnetic " 
Company's system of, established by 
Bright, 13-18 

UNITS, electrical, formulation and 
nomenclature of, Bright's pioneer 
work in, 213, 214; Lord Kelvin's 
tribute to Bright, 213 ; universal 
adoption of Messrs. Bright & Clark's 
suggestions, 214 

F.R.S., on cause of breakdown of 
First Atlantic Cable (1858), 162, 165 ; 
becomes electrician to Atlantic Co.,' 
162 (note) ; accompanies Second and 
Third Atlantic Cable Expeditions 
(1865-6), 182, 188 

VOLUNTEERING, Bright's association 
with the movement, 423 ; holds 
commission in corps, 423 

WALES, H.R.H. the Prince of (now 
H.M. The King), Bright shows con- 
struction of Atlantic Cable, 52 ; Bright 
conducts over Paris Exhibition, 417 

WEATHER REPORTS, Bright's early 
work in telegraphing, 20 

WEBB, Mr.F.C., M.Inst.C.E.. Assistant 
Engineer onFirst(i857) Atlantic Cable 
Expedition, 151 ; Chief Engineering 
Assistant to Messrs. Bright & Clark, 
Persian Gulf Cables, 230 ; graceful 
tribute to, and recollections of, 
Bright, 262-264 

C.E., Bright's association with, 378 

WEST INDIAN CABLES (1869-72), 305- 
372 ; over 4,000 miles in all, 313 ; 
types adopted for, 313 ; manufac- 
ture at Silvertown Works, 313 ; 
s.s. Dacia fitted out by Bright for 
laying the cables, 310, 312 ; much 
trouble over laying, due to factory 
faults and bad sea-bottom, 316, 318 ; 
much grappling and many repairs, 
317, 318 ; unhealthy conditions, 
much sickness and many deaths, 
305 ; permanent injury to Bright's 
health, 360 (note) 

WHEATSTONE, Professor, F.R.S. (Sir 
Charles), on excessive charges used 
for working First Atlantic Cable, 



WILDMAN, 40 ; appointed electrician Cable Expeditions (1857-8), 51, 89, 

to " Atlantic " Telegraph Co., 46 ; 92, 143 
electrical experiments and researches 

by, 40, 48 ; mistaken views of, 48 ; YACHT CLUB, Royal Thames : Bright's 

counsels each ship laying part of favourite Club resort, 438 ; races, 

First Atlantic Cable in turn, 58 ; in 439 

electrical charge at Irish end, being YACHTING, Bright's fondness for, 430- 
unable to accompany expeditions, 431 ; with Capt. Cosby Lovett, 430 ; 
58, 66, 88, 92 ; prepares for first and Mr. J. B. Saunders, 431 
message through entire Atlantic YOUTHFULNESS, Bright's, as an in- 
Cable, 137 ; detector of, used, 149 ; ventor, 8 ; when Engineer to " Mag- 
excessive currents employed by, 151, netic Co.," n ; when Engineer to 
160, 161 Atlantic Co., 46 ; when knighted for 
WOODHOUSE, Mr. WILLIAM HENRY, laying the First Atlantic Cable, 146 ; 
Assistant Engineer, First Atlantic as Member of Parliament, 274, 304 

Butler & Tanner, The Sehvood Printing Works, Frome, 

and London. 

Some Press Notices of the Original 

" Will be generally welcomed as a worthy and needed memorial of one 
of the foremost figures of a superlatively great period of engineering 
progress." The Times. 

" Presents the career of a famous Englishman with all the charm of 
simplicity and enthusiasm." Morning Post. 

" These volumes, whilst dealing with some of the most notable of Vic- 
torian performances in science, will serve to keep alive the memory of a 
truly distinguished man." The Globe. 

" Not only of interest to the general reader, but of value to the profession 
of which Sir Charles Bright was one of the chief pioneers." Westminster 

" Sir Charles Bright's life, though not long, was so full of great 
achievements and interesting adventure that it well deserved a careful 
even minute record." Manchester Guardian. 

" These two volumes are the story writ large, but not too large." 
The Spectator. 

" Though dying at the early age of fifty-six, he really ' fulfilled a long 
time,' if we reckon by the amount of his prof essional and scientific work of 
world-wide importance." Saturday Review. 

" The book is a monumental tribute to the memory of a man who must 
have inspired his companions with strong affection and admiration. The 
book is fully illustrated, and maps, plans, sections, portraits, and other 
illustrations greatly enhance its value." The Athenceum. 

" Sir Charles Bright was truly a wonderful man, and it is well that the 
facts of his career should be published. It makes us proud of our race to 
read again the story of his early life." Engineering. 

" Sir Charles, with his extremely keen, alert, and agile mind, full of 
expedient and resource, his thorough workmanship in every detail and 
his restless energy, was marked out for a telegraph engineer, though he 
might equally have distinguished himself in any other line." The 

" A fitting memorial of one of the earliest, most popular and most 
eminent of electrical pioneers." The Electrician. 

" The book is a very human document. It is at once a book of travel 
and adventure, a record of active and earnest achievement, a history of 
the youth of a mighty scientific industry, and a mine of information on 
the technical features of early electrical engineering. Every electrical 
engineer who has difficulties to overcome himself will find encouragement 
and suggestion in reading how Bright overcame his. The book is illus- 
trated with illustrations that really illustrate sketches of cable operations, 
machinery, etc. while every telegraph man will find here a record of both 
the human and the scientific sides "of land and sea telegraphy that will 
do his heart and his brain good to read." Electrical World and Engineer 
(New York}. 


One Volume, Super-royal octavo, nearly 800 pages, with about 300 
Illustrations, Maps, and Diagrams, 3 35. net. 

Submarine Telegraphs 

Their History, Construction and 

Together with an Appendix on " Wireless " Telegraphy 

Compiled from Authoritative and Exclusive Sources 


A.M.lNST.C.E., M.I.MECH.E., M.I.E.E. 

Extracts from Notices of the Press. 

" Upon his task Mr. Bright has bestowed untiring pains. With an 
inborn love of the subject he has recorded every minutest detail of infor- 
mation connected with the design, construction, laying and failure of the 
first Channel and Atlantic Cables, and has throughout the work traced 
with rare impartiality the impress of Wheatstone, Morse, Siemens, Lord 
Kelvin, Sir Charles Bright, and the host of great minds, upon the final 
evolution of modern telegraphy." The Times. 

" Mr. Bright has a good right to deal with this subject. ... He has 
recorded the history of submarine telegraphy in a very lucid and interest- 
ing way." The Spectator. 

" The author deals with his subject from all points of view political 
and strategical as well as scientific. The work will be of interest, not only 
to men of science, but to the general public. We can strongly recommend 
it." The Athenceum. 

" This book is full of information. It makes a book of reference which 
should be in every engineer's library. Mr. Bright has executed his task 
in an impartial and disinterested way, and he has marshalled his facts with 
much clearness." Nature. 

" There are few, if any, persons more fitted to write a treatise on sub- 
marine telegraphy than Mr. Charles Bright. The author has done his 
work admirably, and has written in a way which will appeal as much to the 
layman as to the engineer. . . . This admirable volume must, for many 
years to come, hold the position of the English classic on submarine tele- 
graphy. It is crowded with useful information." The Engineer. 

" Mr. Bright 's interestingly written and admirably illustrated book 
will meet with a welcome reception from cable men." The Electrician. 


220 pages, 45 illustrations, is. 

The Story of the Atlantic Cable 


Opinions of the Press. 

" The author is well known not only as the historian of submarine telegraphy but also as one 
of the leading authorities who have helped to make the history which he so lucidly records " 
The Times. 

" The book is good reading throughout, the enormous difficulties attendant on the work in 
early days being graphically described." Morning Post. 

" Mr. Charles Bright, F.R.S.E., in this brightly-written little volume re-tells the thrilling story 
which shows what can be done by enterprising youth." Daily Telegraph. 

" A romance of science truly ; 'and none can be better qualified to tell it than the author of 
this fascinating book." The Standard. 

" The story was worth re-telling and Mr. Charles Bright was the man to re-tell it, as he is him- 
self an electrician who has specialised in the laying of submarine cables." Daily Graphic. 

" Mr. Charles Bright has treated his subject in a popular and attractive manner, avoiding 
technical language as far as possible." Daily Mail. 

" The author, who is commonly regarded as the historian of submarine telegraphy, has here 
given the narrative of a great achievement in a strikingly interesting manner. The man who 
ultimately achieved the laying of the cable was the late Sir Charles Tilston Bright father to 
the author at the age of twenty-six, whereupon he became the youngest knight on record." 
Daily Chronicle. 

" It is a useful memento of the difficulties attending a great enterprise and of the faith and 
perseverance which eventually surmounted them after a series of heart-breaking failures. A 
truly wonderful story." Pall Matt Gazette. 

" The story is well told, and not merely to people of scientific pursuits will this record of momen- 
tous achievements appeal. All who admire courage, perseverance, patience and fertility of 
resource will be enthralled. No romance could excite the emotions or call up more enthusiasm 
than the book before us." St. James's Gazette. 

" Mr. Bright tells the story in a manner that brings home to us the heroism of the projectors 
of a great pioneer work. The account of this unrivalled enterprise is worthily represented in 
this little book and should inspire many a young mind to overcome obstacles in the way of 
doing things." T e Spectator. 

" The story of the laying of the early Atlantic cables is one of veritable romance. It is told 
here with skill and sympathy." Saturday Review. 

" Mr. Charles Bright is by hereditary right and scientific attainment an excellent authority 
on the story of the Atlantic cable, so we welcome his little book, which tells well the wonderful 
persistence and enterprise which led to an important factor in world-connections." The Atlunceum. 

" This little work is crammed with information most clearly set out, and has in parts all the 
enthral nent of a romance." The Academy. 

"-The story is extremely well told by Charles Bright and reads like romance." The World. 

" This is a well-written and popular account of a great work which provides all the elements 
of real romance the struggle in the face of unending difficulties and disappointments, the failures 
when within an inch of success, the dramatic triumph in the end." Truth. 

" This little volume is excellent in every respect." Nature. 

" For the manner in which the thousand and one difficulties in this great undertaking were 
surmounted, we warmly commend our readers to Mr. Bright's interesting and accurate pages." 

" The narrative is one of intense interest, and is moulded into an agreeable form. It is well 
worthy of perusal by those who wish to pass a few hours in reading of the heroic deeds of 01 
forerunners. ' ' Electrical Review. 

" The book could have been entrusted to no more capable hands than the author of 6ft-. 
marine Telegraphs, the standard work on the subject. While written in a popular way, students 
will tmd here many useful particulars regarding the construction, laying and electrical working 
of cables, and every telegraphist should have a copy." Electricity. 

" Mr. Charles Bright's ' Story of the Atlantic Cable ' forms one of the most readable numbers of 
a most readable series." Electrical Industries. 

" As one of the leading authorities of the world on submarine telegraphy, Mr. Bnsrht is pre- 
eminently the man of all men to write this history of his father's great achievement, and I 
has written it succinctly and well." Electrical Engineer of New York. 



Demy octavo, is. 

Imperial Preferential Policy 



Vice-President}Tariff Reform League, Paddington Branch ; 

Author of "Submarine Telegraphs," "The 

Locomotion Problem," " A Plea for a 

National Pattv," 1 etc. 

Press Opinions. 

" The arguments are well and cogently drawn up." The Times. 

" Mr. Charles Bright, F.R.S.E., has republished a series of excellent addresses on the subject 
of ' Imperial Preferential Policy,' delivered by him on behalf of the Tariff Reform League during 
the past two years." Morning Post. 

" These addresses embody a plain, straightforward exposition of the principles underlying 
Mr. Chamberlain's policy none the less cogent because they are devoid of rhetorical embellish- 
ments, and refreshingly free from the invective common with the party politician. With these 
merits, the volume is likely to win many readers and converts." Daily Telegraph. 

" Mr. Bright's views are most concisely stated in his concluding reflection that the real issue 
in the controversy is the federation of our Empire rather than that of Free Trade versus Pro- 
tection." Daily Graphic. 

" These lectures set out in a very clear, fair and interesting way the main arguments on both 
sides of the controversy, giving a useful outline of the question in a popular form and within a 
reasonable compass." Daily Mail. 

" An armament of arguments for Tariff Reformers is to be found in a small shilling volume 
entitled Imperial Preferential Policy, by Mr. Charles Bright, F.R.S.E., the well-known en- 
gineer." Evening Standard. 

" Mr. Bright writes with studied moderation and good sense ; and the fact that he does not 
disregard arguments that might be held to confute, or weaken, his own entitles him to considera- 
tion apart from, and superior to, all party prejudice." The Globe. 

" His treatment is invested with individual cogency and freshness." Pall Mall Gazette. 

" Like everything else in the nature of book-work that has come under our notice from the 
pen of Mr. Charles Bright, it leaves us with the impression of being thorough, painstaking, based 
upon wide and appropriate reading, and, so far as it goes, the book upon its particular topic." 
The Observer. 

" Mr. Charles Bright has republished in book form a series of excellent and persuasive addresses 
on the subject of ' Imperial Preferential Policy ' delivered by him on behalf of the Tariff Reform 
League during the past two years." The World. 

" The volume will be found a very valuable addition to the literature of the Fiscal Question, 
comprising as it does a general survey of the main arguments both for and against Imperial 
Preference." Saturday Review. 

" The arguments on both sides are ably handled ; and, perhaps, no more lucid work on the 
subject has been given to the public." The Outlook. 

" The publication of these addresses is more than justified, for the author a great authority 
on certain aspects of industry and Imperialism handles his subject with great ability and per- 
spicuity. Mr. Bright has here contrived to compress a great deal of information into a com- 
paratively small compass." The Statist. 

" To all who wish to gain quickly an intelligent appreciation of the new cause we can cor- 
dially commend Mr. Bright's book." Magazine of Commerce. 

" His work is commendably free from the personal note that disfigures so much controversial 
literature. Commercial Intelligence. 

"Mr. Bright's volume will be found to contain a most useful summary of the arguments on 
both sides of a question which is of the greatest practical importance. It will be a time-saver 
to any one who is anxious to get the gist of the matter without digging laboriouslv through blue 
books and political speeches." Electrical Industries. 


Demy octavo, is. net. 

The Locomotion Problem 



Author of "Submarine Telegraphs," "The Life of 

Sir Charles Bright," " The Story of the Atlantic 

Cable," "Science and Engineering during 

the Victorian Era," and "Imperial 

Preferential Policy." 

Press Opinions. 

" This little book contains a great deal of information, and the whole forms a 
very interesting discussion of one of the most important of present-day subjects." 
The Times. 

" Mr. Charles Bright's little volume may profitably be read by any one interested 
in this topic and who nowadays is not ? " Daily Telegraph. 

" Mr. Bright has considerable acquaintance with the subject in its various 
aspects, and the reader will find most of its more important questions fully and 
ably discussed." Morning Post. 

" Mr. Charles Bright, F.R.S.E., considers in an interesting brochure, 'The Loco- 
motion Problem,' the new circumstances that have arisen from the growing 
vogue of the petroleum and electrically propelled vehicle and their probable 
economic effects." The Standard. 

" Here we have an examination extremely interesting at the present time when 
the congested traffic of London is the subject of many theories and many reme- 
dies, and Mr. Bright considers the questions involved with the knowledge of an 
expert rather than a theorist." Daily Mail. 

" Though the Motor Car Act has since been in active operation, and though 
progress has since been made in the practical realization of public automobiles 
and tube railways, there is no change in the general situation such as would 
render these lectures out of date at the present time." The Observer. 

"Mr. Charles Bright, F.R.S.E., is peculiarly qualified by training, knowledge of 
affairs and natural bent, to review the locomotion question in the broad light of 
the country at large, and this little volume will be found pregnant with ideas and 
eminently practical." Sunday Times. 

" Mr. Bright surveys the whole field and shows himself superior to prejudice; 
but at the same time he does not shrink from advocacy of what he believes is best, 
and also likeliest, to occur. As a sportsman being a member of the Leander 
Club, still keeping wicket for the M.C.C.. and formerly a member of the Committee 
of the All England Lawn Tennis Club he can claim' to look at such things as the 
motor question in a sporting spirit, and. therefore, with consideration for his 
fellow-beings and for dumb animals." The Sportsman. 

" Mr. Bright deals in a judicial and unbiassed spirit with all the main argu- 
ments regarding the motor question, and also relative to motor buses v. tram- 
ways, as well as largely in relation to tubes, whilst treating his subject in a re- 
markably lucid manner." Sporting Life. 

"Mr. Bright has given us here a seasonable little volume consisting of lectures 
delivered before the Motor Car Act came into operation." The Spectator. 

" There are directness and force in all Mr. Bright's lectures whether they be 
on telegraphs, or on such a question as is contained in the volume before us which 
renders them especially valuable." Saturday Review. 

" The locomotion problem is the subject of Mr. Bright's latest work. The 
subject is treated in his usual lucid manner, and those interested in this much- 

Press Opinions continued. 

vexed question could not do better than consult its pages if they wish to arrive 
at a fair view." The Outlook. 

" Mr. Charles Bright's republished lectures contain much useful information 
regarding the subject they treat of." Truth. 

" A thoroughly able, impartial, and comprehensive study of one of the most 
important questions of the day will be found in these three excellent lectures by 
the distinguished engineer, Mr. Charles Bright." The World. 

" This little book, by Mr. Charles Bright, is one which every one interested in 
the great traffic question should read. It deals with the subject clearly, concisely 
and exhaustively, and is the most valuable contribution to the motor-car con- 
troversy we have yet had." The Field. 

" This is a most timely publication from the pen of Mr Charles Bright, F.R.S.E. 
Whenever Mr. Bright touches a subject that comes within his province and we 
should be loth to attempt to assign a limit to his province he leaves but little of 
importance for any one else to say. Without being tedious, he gives a multi- 
plicity of detail, and yet all the time keeps the broad features of his topic well in 
view. The writer who can do this is in a fair way for being worthy of the diploma 
absolute of authorship ; and we imagine it would be hard to find any one who has 
this skill in greater fullness than Mr. Charles Bright." The Referee. 

" Mr. Charles Bright here discusses the menace of the motor in a fair and 
temperate spirit which should give satisfaction to both sides in the controversy." 
The Scotsman. 

" The writer is an expert in the subject and we have here many shrewd and 
sensible comments." Birmingham Daily Post. 

" Mr. Charles Bright has many good things to say on the motor and all the 
questions that surround it." Western Mail. 

" No one who takes an interest in the all-important question of road traction 
can afford to lose the advantage of reading anything that an expert like Mr. 
Bright has to say on such a subject." Liverpool Journal of Commerce. 

" In dealing with tramways, Mr. Bright enters a useful protest against the 
piecemeal method which municipal pottering has imposed upon inter-urban 
tramway development. There are many other matters such as railway and 
tramway competition and the relation between traffic facilities and the housing 
problem with which Mr. Bright deals in a very suggestive way. Any one in 
search of a useful and simple survey of a complicated problem will find this little 
volume appropriate to his purpose." Electrical Industries. 

" Mr. Bright maintains that rapid locomotion, though excellent in its way as a 
temporary palliative for present difficulties, tends as much towards centralization 
as towards decentralization. He is of opinion'that the real solution will be found 
in industrial redistribution and in the establishment of garden cities." Railway 

" A most useful and interesting book is constituted by Mr. Charles Bright's 
reprinted lectures on the question of road locomotion." The Car. 

" The lectures are admirably written and contain much information relative 
to the traffic problem." Motoring Illustrated. 

" Mr. Bright points out that a large proportion of the ill-feeling towards motorists 
is engendered by men who have never owned or driven a horse themselves, or who 
entrust the driving of their cars to persons who have had no experience of traffic. 
Another matter on which Mr. Bright touches is the increasing ineptitude of local 
authorities which, instead of dealing with subjects under purview in a reason- 
able way, are degenerating into societies for the Perpetual Discussion of Trifles." 
Motor Car Journal. 

" There is here as might be expected in view of the authorship an admixture 
of humour and solid sense that renders Mr. Bright's lectures decidedly attractive 
reading." Automobile Club Journal. 




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